The Evolution and History of Law Enforcement Technology

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New technology has transformed the law enforcement industry and the criminal justice system as a whole. Today, police and other law enforcement officials rely on a wide range of technologies to enforce laws and stop crime in a safe and efficient manner.

From license plate readers and gunshot detection systems, to camera drones and thermal imaging, these technologies have made it possible for law enforcement to prevent crime and keep their communities safe.

Law enforcement technology has rapidly evolved over the last several decades and in turn, has fundamentally altered the face of society. Learn more about the evaluation and history of law enforcement technology and what it means for modern departments.

History of Law Enforcement Technology

The history of policing in the United States is generally divided by scholars into three main eras: The Political Era which spans from 1840 to 1930, the Reform Era spanning from 1930 to 1980, and the Community Era which began in the 1980s and continues into modern day.

Over time, many accomplishments have been made to help police departments protect the public. The use of radar in traffic law came shortly after the first use of the one-way radio by police in 1928 and the two-way radio in 1934. One of the biggest innovations in law enforcement came in 1948 with the adoption of the radio for use in traffic law enforcement.

police officer operating mobile in the police stationIn 1955, an electronic data processing machine was used by the New Orleans Police Department to summarize arrests and warrants. In the same year, the first computer dispatching system was established in the Saint Louis police department.

However, it was not until 1967 that the FBI created the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), the first national law enforcement computing system that is still in use today.

Other technologies have been developed since then, including night vision goggles in the mid-1970s and “enhanced” 911 in 1980. By the 1990s, police departments in Chicago, New York City and other cities across the country had started to use more sophisticated computer programs to help analyze and map crime patterns.

Current Evolution of Law Enforcement Technology

Today, law enforcement officials have access to more advanced technology than ever before. These technologies are changing the way that police receive, send and store sensitive information, as well as handle and analyze crime data.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is helping law enforcement in a big way by taking over many time-consuming tasks that were once done by humans. AI is used in many different ways, such as facial recognition, surveillance, scanning video footage and biometrics. It is also useful for spotting anomalies and patterns, such as identifying stolen credit cards.

Wearable technology is also growing in popularity in the law enforcement industry. Police are mostly mobile and need the ability to access critical information anywhere and anytime. The use of wearable technology, such as smartwatches, can help police by providing GPS and CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch) features, detecting heart rate, and sending SOS alerts quickly and discreetly.

Workforce management software has also replaced manual tasks, such as manual document creation. Access to the right software solution can save departments a great deal of time, reduce costs and enhance overall efficiency. With management software, law enforcement officials can also improve risk management and ensure compliance.

Future of Law Enforcement Technology

The future of technology in law enforcement looks bright with new innovations hitting the market every day. Real-time crime center technology has steadily evolved over the last decade and is expected to become more advanced in the upcoming years.

police officer working on computerThis particular form of technology is used to input data that is collected by CAD systems, as well as other information such as gunfire detection and live video, into a centralized system that calculates what areas require more patrol presence or immediate response.

With advancements in real-time surveillance, law enforcement can conduct round-the-clock surveillance in heavy crime areas or when extra security is needed during large events. From traffic enforcement cameras to drones, law enforcement requires technology that can capture and transmit data without delay.

Law enforcement is also seeing advancements in other areas of IT, such as mobile applications, connected devices, police body cameras, and data analytic systems that use technology to automatically analyze large amounts of data from internal and external sources.

Schedule a Consultation with CPI OpenFox Today

CPI OpenFox delivers market-leading software solutions to state and local law enforcement departments across the U.S. For more than 30 years, our team has provided police and other law enforcement agencies with innovative products designed to protect public safety and prevent crime.

Our high-level software solutions can help optimize an agency’s ability to store information, share data and provide intelligent law enforcement services. For more information about our comprehensive suite of law enforcement software solutions, schedule a consultation online or call CPI OpenFox at (630) 547-3088.