5 Technology Trends Impacting Law Enforcement Investigations

  1. Data sharing is the name of the game.

Realizing we are in a new era where criminals are more transient than ever before and touch numerous law enforcement agencies throughout the nation, the need to know what is going on outside of your agency is crucial in protecting our community in a timely manner. This is especially true in dealing with terrorism where finding out associates, relatives and other connections is vital to possibly preventing an attack. Data sharing can make all the difference. There are a lot of conversations going on right now about data sharing. Agencies are setting up local, regional or statewide consortiums where they are having executive-level discussions about how to share data. Specifically, they are seeking ways to share proprietary Record Management Systems (RMS); Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) systems; crash, offender and License Plate Recognition (LPR) systems, within an agency and with other police departments.

  1. Agencies are turning to the cloud.

There is definite need for more storage. All that data in RMS; CAD; and crash, offender and LPR systems has to be stored somewhere. The same is true for Body- Worn Camera video. Increasingly, police departments are looking to the cloud to meet their storage needs. Law enforcement is finding that cloud-based solutions are not only good, secure data storage tools, but also a good platform to facilitate data sharing.

  1. Criminals are going high tech.

Law enforcement has seen that Gang members and organized criminal groups have become a lot more “techie” and moved from their more traditional crimes and have turned their attention to lucrative, less dangerous crimes, such as fraud – mostly in the form of identity fraud. They are using technology to commit credit card fraud, as well as steal public assistance benefits and tax refunds. In fact, identity-based tax refund fraud has become so prevalent that in 2016, employment or tax-related fraud was the number one type of identity theft reported to the Federal Trade Commission. This is definitely a new challenge for law enforcement to contend with on a daily basis.

  1. More agencies are relying on analytics.

Law enforcement wants what the community wants: safer communities. To make that happen, agencies are using data and visual analytics for spotting crime trends, sprees and patterns more quickly. This gives command staff the right areas, right times and the right deployment of personnel to thwart the spread.

  1. Agencies are using technology to facilitate transparency with the public.

It has always been critical for law enforcement to build and maintain positive relationships with the communities they serve. Often, this is much easier said than done. But, transparency has always been a useful tool in Community Policing and to keep the lines of communication open. Agencies are increasingly using technology to demonstrate transparency and engage with the public. For example, a number of agencies have had success using crime mapping technology to visually display information for members of the community about crime in their neighborhoods. Some of these technologies even provide an option for individuals to sign up for alerts about crime in their neighborhoods and offer the ability for individuals to provide anonymous tips to law enforcement.

It is clear that these key trends demonstrate an evolution in how technology is used to support law enforcement. Data sharing, an increased use in analytics to stay ahead and fight crime, utilizing technology to defeat identity fraud, embracing the cloud – these are all tools to help make communities safer. Just as important, law enforcement is using technology in an effort to become more transparent with and engage the communities they serve. Technology cannot replace officers’ instincts or knowledge of how things work in the neighborhoods they patrol, but it helps the agencies do more with less and can help them do their jobs more effectively.

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