Today’s Investigative Special Report August 18, 2012 “Dealing With Today’s Law Enforcement Specialized Investigations” “What Role Has Technology Has Had On Law Enforcement”

Lawrence W. Daly

In the law enforcement community technology has created new avenues for exploration of the use of mobile telephones to the identification of DNA. The question is has technology separated law enforcement from law enforcement. A twist of words but a major impact which has law enforcement learning how to deal with a one time personal relationship with another officer to an impersonal way of communication.

The individual or group contact amongst law enforcement officers is probably one of the most important aspects of bringing officers together bonding them into a comradery type relationship. The intimacy of a once roundtable where officers would sit and discuss the day’s events has turned into taking police vehicles home, to traveling directly to their district beginning their shift, to texting that they are in service.

The relationship between officers has its own subtleties and nuances which are necessary and beneficial to building positive and successful relationships. The individual and group meetings, presents the officers with the opportunity to engage in telling stories, providing strategic advice, the ability to observe each other in a calm environment where personal information is provided, and so forth.

Each officer is given the opportunity to tell their own story about who they are. The meetings are personal sharing times, discussing other topics such as sports, politics, religion, children, husbands and wives, and so forth. The time expended together is beneficial, positive, fruitful, and socially necessary and needed.

The creation of the mobile telephone has created a division between human contact between law enforcement officers and the public. Instead of meeting one on one with another officer the officer is utilizing calling or texting his neighbor patrol car. When a citizen calls the 911 call center, if the call is a non-emergency call, the call is routed to a non-911 dispatcher, and then forwarded to the patrol car in the field.

The officer then speaks to the citizen, takes the information over the telephone from the citizen. There is no physical one on one contact with the citizen if the criteria fall under a set of conditions. This may create a situation where the officer is capable of saving time and money, but the citizen does not receive the necessary attention that is required in an investigation.

An investigation can’t be conducted by calling someone on the telephone and taking down basic information. If the information is about property damages, thefts, auto accidents, and other incidences which fall under the law enforcement agencies protocol and conditions, there are several issues which may occur:
1.      The possibility of fraud may occur if the law enforcement officer takes the crime report by a mobile telephone.
2.      The possibility of misleading information may occur if the law enforcement officer takes the crime report by a mobile telephone.
3.      The possibility of the law enforcement officer missing key information may occur if the law enforcement officer takes the crime report by a mobile telephone.
4.      The possibility of the law enforcement officer missing key physical, biological, and/or trace evidence may occur if the law enforcement officer takes the crime report by a mobile telephone.
5.      The purpose of reporting a crime requires a law enforcement officer to respond to the location so a competent and intelligent investigation can take place. The purpose of the non-emergency dispatcher connecting the telephone call to the patrol officer may be redundant. Sometimes there are no reasons to have the citizen talk to the officer as the non-emergency dispatcher can ask the relevant and material questions and take the report, if it is determined that a patrol officer is not needed.

Granted there are a multiple type of scenarios which can be examined, evaluated, and resolved when the patrol officer should receive a directed call to them while they are responding to the alleged crime. Domestic violence is where the greatest deaths of police officers occur. If the officer can talk to the complainant then the officer will be able to ask the relevant and material questions about what just took place and the necessary officer safety questions which need to be asked and answered prior to the officer(s) arriving at the alleged crime scene can be asked and answered.

According to the San Antonio Kens5 News, “Minutes after a shooting near the Oakland Airport this year, the gunman was on the loose. And police Sgt. Chris Bolton quickly fired off a flurry of text alerts to thousands of nearby residents through a social media tool for law enforcement agencies. "Stay out of area," said one alert. "Multiple shooting victims reported. Medical on-scene. Police are evacuating a nearby, affected business."
Later Sgt. Bolton was able to tell the community that the perpetrator had been located, was in custody and that their safety was no longer an issue. The communication was conducted by texting the residence.

The ability of law enforcement having tools such as Sgt. Bolton utilized can and will be a life saver. The creativity and innovation of the technology law enforcement has access to may make the difference if the alleged victim, witness, and/or perpetrator are possibly being harmed or attempting to elude being apprehended.

Technology has assisted law enforcement in having computers put into all patrol vehicles. This allows the officers the opportunity to type reports, update cases they are investigating, check suspicious vehicles and individuals they may be investigating, and etc.

The new types of techno gadgets have their advantages and disadvantages. In the early 1980’s the argument of the type of emergency lights and sirens were a major discussion and topic of concern. Some of the sirens being utilized by law enforcement and fire personnel were outrunning their sirens. What this entails is the siren being utilized by the emergency vehicle was not being projected with enough distance so citizens could hear the oncoming emergency vehicle. The result were major accidents especially at intersections. Many lives were lost and property damage was extensive.

Law enforcement and fire personnel became cognizant of this problem and began slowing or stopping at intersections in order to allow the sirens to be heard by others.

There are many other examples of how technology has effected how law enforcement handles investigations of crimes. As in any organization it will take years of trial and error, research, adjustments, creativity, and innovation to find what works and what does not work. The new technology which has been developed to date has saved lives and most importantly protected and saved the lives of law enforcement and fire personnel.

As stated early on in this article the need for one on one, face to face, group meetings, and just having coffee with one another can make the difference in promoting a positive and successful morale. Law enforcement agencies must take the time to evaluate, examine, and institute policies which maximize any opportunity to bring the human touch back to the formula.

Description: Larry-Daly_01

Lawrence W. Daly           
Puyallup, WA

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