Over the past years, technology has gone a long way in helping to emphasize discipline, decision making, in addition to, making sure that there is an equal enforcement of the law. August Vollmer, a champion of police technology, became a pioneer in the use of fingerprint, polygraph, and handwriting classification systems. In the 1930s, the FBI had a laboratory known to be comprehensive and technologically advanced. This was the time that the police used the automobile and two-way radios.
There followed more technological innovations, for example, traffic law enforcement started to use the radar in the 1940s. The government of United States has been investing a lot in helping the police use new technologies. An evolution in criminal justice technology was inevitable because most of the American society had been changed as a result of the scientific and technological revolutions that had taken place. Though the police had access to latest innovations in science and technology, they used them only in very serious crimes, instead in all the problems that faced the police.
It is important to note that, technology has significantly impacted the criminal justice department. The changing technology has placed impacts in the police the most, but it has also impacted on matters dealing with courts, probation, prosecution, parole, corrections and juvenile justice.
However, when compared to the private sector, the criminal justice system has been left behind in the issue of adopting technology. Even within the criminal justice system, the adoption of technology has not been even, the courts, as well as the prosecution has been the last to incorporate technology into their system. However, the law enforcement section has been the quickest in advancing their use of technology. The reason can be because there is a lot to involve technology in the law enforcement.
There have been two areas of technological development, which have been important for the criminal justice department. They are the forensic sciences, as well as, computerized information systems (Nunn, 2001). They have recently become an essential part of the criminal justice department.
The manner in which ends are accomplished will be altered as technology become more useful in the criminal justice sector. Advanced technology would provide new options and new challenges. More often than not, technologies need extensive legal change.
It is important to note that the police work is very demanding. Most of the time, they have limited resources. It follows that, for them to do their job effectively, the police have to employ advanced technological innovations to their advantages. It is only recent that many policing agencies have used information technologies effectively. The examples include crime mapping that are computerized, fingerprinting databases, in addition to records management systems. The management systems help in the calculation of solvability factors, inventorying property, and cataloging evidence.
Most of the police technologies have been drawn from the commercial marketplace, for example, computers, radios, firearms, and cars. The private sector involved in the manufacture and development of technology has not been willing to meet the technological needs of the police force.
The office of Science and Technology has to survey the police to determine technological requirements. It is also responsible for the developing voluntary product standards, compliance, as well as testing processes. It then disseminates a variety of information regarding criminal justice technology. There have been accomplishments in the development of soft body armors for law enforcement officers, in addition to the establishment of performance standards for advanced equipments for the police force.
The congress has recently approved a project that would see the improvement of the quality and availability of the technology behind the DNA, to local and state police. There has also been funding to detect any concealed weapon and contraband.
The U.S. policing can be divided into three eras, the political era, the professional model era, in addition to the recent one. During the political era, the police had only a gun and a nightstick as their weapons. They still continue to use them today in addition to some modernization. The second era continued to witness a number other significant technological advancements.
In the 1960s, the President's crime Commission emphasized on the computerization of policing in the United States. However, despite all this, not many police agencies made effective use of the computers. Blames were directed at the complexities of the new technology. Later on, many of the police agencies started to use the computers for a variety of functions like routine record keeping, criminal investigations, budgeting, the analysis of crime, and allocation of manpower.
A significant innovation that was computer-based in American policing was the starting up of the National Crime Information Centre. It is a central computerized index of missing persons, fugitives and stolen property. This was amongst the first application of computer technology by most American Police agencies.
The computers came in handy in developing Automated Fingerprint Identification Systems. Moreover, the federal government has played an important role in the computerization of policing and the development of 911 (Nunn, 2001). There have been other recent advancements in technology that have helped the police. Their portable radios have been made more powerful, lighter, and a lot easier to use. Cellular phones are also currently used in many agencies. There has also been the development of the peeper spray that acts as a force alternative. They have been very useful in the police force; however, there is need for more technological advancements.
There still exists a vacuum in the funding of research and technology that is necessary for the support of the requirements of law enforcement. There has been an increase in youth violence and organized crime (Lawrence, 1993). This means that funding is required for future technology needs that are vital. There is need for technological advancements in the detection of concealed weapons, the stopping of fleeing individuals, and devices that are not very lethal. There is also a need for an improvement in the DNA laboratory and database. Without these advancements, it will be hard to reach another level of community support and policing that is important for effective regional law enforcement.
Weapons that have been carefully conceived pose a major threat to the law enforcement officers and the public in general. The current weapon detectors are limited in their range. Most give false alarms. Those weapons that have low-metal content are usually hard to detect. A number of future options in detecting these weapons need to be explored. Moreover, technology advancement that could stop fleeing vehicles need to be looked into, for example, retractable barrier strips or vehicle barriers.
In conclusion, matters dealing with the public safety are the first priority of the nation. For the cause of public safety to be served, priority has to be in the development of technology that supports law enforcement. Stabilized funds have to be channeled to the criminal justice department. However, it is imperative to note that all these technological advances are only going to be useful if the law enforcers can afford them.