Computers Help Police Essay, Research Paper
Computers help police officers that work in the field. Computers allow the officer to check many things in order to make safer stops on vehicles. The officer can check if the car is stolen, if the driver has any outstanding warrants or if the driver has a valid drivers license.
When a police officer stops a driver for speeding or other unlawful activity, he usually does not know exactly what kind of situation he or she is getting into. The person in the car could be a fleeing felon, a drug trafficker or merely a careless driver. This technology especially designed for public safety agencies can help law enforcement officers gain more information about the people they encounter before any physical or verbal contact with them. Linking the officers in the field with some of the same records available to dispatch agents and officers at police stations help keep the officers safe because it allows them to check criminal histories prior to leaving their car. There is a notification that shows up on the officers’ computer if the driver is a sex offender or he has been arrested for drugs or gang membership. This fairly new technology saves time, allowing for more productivity in the field, and more arrests and a safer environment.
Without this technology, officers must radio a dispatcher to check license tags and IDs. The field officers must then wait several minutes to get their information, depending on how busy the dispatcher is. Although it does not happen very often, some police officers have been killed while waiting for information after pulling over a driver who broke a traffic law. When officers are in critical situations, every minute counts. Using radio can take several minutes to get information, where computers only take seconds to get the necessary information on the driver. Some drug dealers have police scanners that allow them to monitor officers’ locations, travel routs and assignments. The computers transmit information over fully encrypted, secure digital channels, allowing officers to respond silently to a drug complaint, boosting their chances of making surprise arrests.
One evening, a narcotics officer noticed a van that was making frequent stops in a neighborhood well known for drug activity. The officer called the dispatcher to run a check on the license plate of the van. While he was waiting for the dispatcher, the van left the neighborhood, and the officer was unable to stop it because he had no hard evidence (Computers in the Field). In another instance, a motorcycle officer stopped a suspicious driver on a major highway and was nearly killed when the car turned back onto the highway and ran over him. The driver was later stopped and arrested. Had the officer had a computer on his motorcycle, he would have been able to determine that the driver was a felon with outstanding warrants for his arrest (Computers in the Field).
Computers can save time for the field officers. With the computers installed in patrol cars, officers are also no longer required to report to headquarters for patrol information. They can communicate directly to headquarters and talk “real time” to any units already in the field as well. This keeps officers on the road, thereby providing the highest level of service to the community. Officers will soon be able to complete reports through their mobile computers and will be able to electronically transmit them to headquarters. Officers spend four to six hours a day writing reports. Currently, when an officer submits a report, it goes to a supervisor for approval. The report then is loaded in to the department’s records. That process takes about three days. Once officers have vehicles with computers, they should be able to cut their
report-writing time to an hour, giving them more time to respond to calls. As departments move to an electronic report format, it will no longer have to store paper reports (Law Enforcement Software and Hardware). This would not only save time and space, but it will make the reports more legible. It should also make for more accurate reports since the officers will be doing the reports before they even leave the scene. This will also better the reports by putting so much information at their fingertips in the field.
Another type of computer, which police use, is a radar or laser gun. This piece of equipment allows the officers to tell how fast a driver is going. Inadvertently radar guns have helped police catch many felons and drug dealers. When a police officer pulls a speeder over, they only expect that they are going to give a ticket. Some times, after using the computer, the officer finds that the person who was only going to get a ticket is wanted for a robbery, breaking probation or even committing a murder. One night, a police officer in Springfield was sitting in the median of I-55 one night and heard a roar go past him and his radar gun read 215m.p.h. The officer radioed to another officer further down on the interstate and told him about it. The second officer had the same thing happen a couple of minutes later. One of the officers radioed in to headquarters and told them. Police set up a roadblock near Chicago and caught a drug dealer driving a Dodge
Viper carrying over 200 pounds of marijuana. Thanks to this computer device, the police made a huge drug bust.
There is a huge selection of law enforcement computers and supplies. At http://www.officer.com/prodcom.htm you will find five pages of links to different sites supplying police with equipment. There are sites selling anything from dispatch software, prison software, false alarm tracking, police dogs software, firearms tracking, all the way to face recognition software.
Computers play an important role in the office life of police officers as well. The computers at headquarters are much larger and have many more features to aid in crime fighting. In addition to all of the things that mobile police computers can do, the main computers do much more.
The computers at police headquarters allow the officers to compare mug shots with sketches that the field officers produce. This feature has lead to many arrests in bank robberies and other such crimes. When a criminal is arrested a police officer takes fingerprints, which are entered into their database. This allows police to crosscheck their prints in order to see if they are possibly a suspect in a different robbery or murder. Fingerprints can be taken from crime scenes. These personal calling cards have lead to many arrests and convictions.
All sex offenders are required to give a sample of blood that the police keep on record in the computers. When police find blood or any other body fluid on or around a victim they can use the computers to check if it matches any previously convicted sex offender. Police also are able to check DNA records if they find skin under a victim’s fingernails or if they find any pieces of hair. The computers allow for much quicker answers on who possibly did a crime.
Police computers can compare a bullet casing that they find at a crime scene with its database and find what kind of bullet it is. If police find a used bullet in the wall or even in the victim at a crime, they can cross the bullet with their database and find what kind of bullet it is and even find what kind of gun it was probably shot from. In order for someone to purchase a gun, the buyer’s name must first be ran through the police’s computer system. If the buyer had been arrested for a firearm offense, the sale will be rejected (Interview).
Police computers help catch money launders. By law, you must file a report if you are depositing over $10,000 at any one time. The computers post an alert if someone makes several large transactions over a certain amount of time. This alerts police that the person could possibly be a drug dealer or be laundering money. This technology has lead to the arrest of some careless drug dealers and money launderers.
Police computers have programs that attempt to find drug dealers. The program links peoples’ names with a phone number, that links to a house, that links to the owners’ name, that links to a truck company and so forth. It basically tries to link different items to find dealers and how they traffic their drugs. It has lead to busts on some major drug dealers.
Here is an example of how the computer system works. While looking for a murder suspect, the computer system linked a car that was stopped for a traffic violation in that area with a suspect. When the officer who made the stop was questioned about the car, he said that the car had a tarp and a shovel in the back seat. A shovel was the murder weapon used in the homicide. Thanks to the computer system, the police then had the name of the suspect. The person was arrested and convicted. This same technology linked Timothy McKay with the Oklahoma City bombing. The van, which had the explosives in, was pulled over for a traffic violation on an earlier date. His name was then linked to the bombing making him a suspect.
Finding missing children have always been difficult. Putting a child’s face on milk carton does not get very good results. Some police departments are now putting missing children pictures on their computers. This helps get the pictures out faster and are much easier to carry around than photos or trying to memorize posters from the department. Many police computers do not yet have the photo programs to do this, but plan to get it soon.
I interviewed a police officer from my home town. I first asked him how computers are use in police work. He said that they are used to do nearly everything that the officers would want to do. They are use to check license plate numbers, alert them if the driver is wanted or dangerous and tells them if the area that they are patrolling is known for drug trafficking or gang activity. He told me that the mobile computers have only been widely used for five years or so. More and more departments are switching from only using radios to using the mobile computers. They make the officers job much easier and safer. He said that they have also helped catch many felons because when the officer ran the license number, it showed that the driver was wanted. Most of the information that the officer gave me I have previously covered. He said that computers have helped solve crimes that, without this technology, would have been very difficult. The thing, which he said was the best about the computers, was that they made being a police officer a much safer job.