Remarkable new digital technologies are transforming the ways police protect and serve, allowing agencies to prevent crimes more effectively and solve crimes faster. There is need for keeping pace with technologies that assist law enforcement globally and adopt them, as suited to Indian environment.
Nearly every aspect of our lives, activity and industry has been transformed by technology over the last few decades. Law enforcement technology is one example of advancements that have changed the way law enforcement professionals investigate crimes. The sanctioned and actual strength of police personnel at all-India level per one lakh population is 181.47. On July 26, 2016, Parliament was told India was short of more than half a million police officers; there were 17.2 million police officers across 36 states and union territories, when there should have been 22.6 million – an officer for every 547 Indians as sanctioned strength, but the number was one for every 720. While more police do not necessarily mean less crime, but technology in today’s world is essential for law enforcement and crime resolution. Besides, technology does compensate for poor population to police ratio to some extent.
Police reforms in India have been slow; technology is catching up but in spurts. Remarkable new digital technologies are transforming the ways police protect and serve, allowing agencies to prevent crimes more effectively and solve crimes faster. There is need for keeping pace with technologies that assist law enforcement globally and adopt them, as suited to Indian environment.
Driving on national highways in India, one often observes mobile interceptors for speed checks by the police. Using software especially designed for Google Glass, police officers take photographs of traffic violations and instantly upload them to their police department’s system. The photograph captures the date, time and place that the picture was taken along with the license plate number. Even if the police don’t physically catch you, that speeding ticket may still be in the mail.
More advancements in technology are on the anvil. For example, as a policeman walks on patrol, his special glasses are recording and analyzing everything he sees. A built-in screen provides information about the businesses, homes, and vehicles he looks at, while facial recognition software provides real-time information about the people he passes, letting him know if anyone matches descriptions of someone wanted. With the advent of Google Glass, this is becoming a very real possibility. Both the software and the data for such a scenario is already available; facial recognition has been in existence for a decade, and simple smartphone apps are already provide an augmented reality experience using the phone’s camera. It is only a matter of time before officers on the street will be able to have built-in heads-up displays that provided them with a host of data to help them patrol more effectively and efficiently and keep them and their charges safe.
For law enforcement agencies and crime analysts, social media is proving itself to be a crucial criminal justice tool in gathering intelligence, locating clues and even screening candidates for employment. There have been numerous cases of police thwarting or solving crimes based on tips gleaned from social media posts, as also undetected crimes have been successfully prosecuted as a result of videos posted on social media. However, the potential of social media as a crime-fighting tool is only just beginning to be realized.
PredPol is a software developed in the US that can predict where and what time the next crime will probably occur. It helps find criminal patterns and behaviors and deploy police accordingly. PredPol is based on the observation that certain crime types tend to cluster in time and space. It takes daily feeds from each department’s Record Management System for the predicting engine, which is run once a day to create predictions for each beat, shift and mission type. Using this technology, police agencies have seen efficiencies in staffing shifts and dramatic cuts in crime.
Technology continues to advance and other careers in criminology and criminal justice. The New York City Police, in conjunction Microsoft Corporation, has deployed ‘Dashboard’, a domain awareness system that ties in data from host of available sources, including Computer Aided Dispatch, crime reports and criminal histories, maps and even cameras to provide instant access to real-time information, pictures and video about calls in progress. This comprehensive information is available to police officers and crime analysts at a glance, allowing them to formulate a response to any given call better. Our law enforcement agencies must aim for such type of domain awareness system, which should not be problematic given our prowess in information technology. The use of technology in criminal justice will continue to allow crime fighters to further their ability to serve and protect their respective communities. We must keep upgrading technology for better and quicker law enforcement.