Article written by Brian Higgins, President of Group 77, Robolliance Expert
It was 1988 and I was a young cop watching a group of “old timers” standing around the front desk. There was something going on and I was very curious, but I was trying to not get noticed by the bosses when a captain turned to me and said, “Hey ‘kid’, do want to see law enforcement step into the 21st century?”
As it turned out, my fellow officers and I witnessed the first transmission on our new fax machine in the station house. From there, we witnessed the desk top computer become a necessary tool, the move from paperwork to electronic reports and then to mobile applications on smart phones and tablets…all terms that have come to be or have different meaning.
Law enforcement and the technology that has become a part of it has evolved and continues to evolve at a pace that is hard to comprehend. During those past two decades of this explosion of technology, we saw dramatic drops in crime rates. I believe that those drops are due, in part, to the advancements in technology. The ability to collect data, analyze it and make decisions on intelligence is part of the foundation of modern public safety.
At the same time, technology has created new crimes…crimes that we could never have imagined. Technology can even be used to assist those who perpetrate crimes in a more efficient and, at times, more deadly way.
As technology continues to advance, I believe that much of our attention will be focused on ways to integrate man and technology. Using different types of technology with the humans who perform the very important jobs in public safety will enhance law enforcement’s effectiveness.
One area that has been developing greatly is drones and unmanned ground vehicles. Robots have long been a part of law enforcement, especially with special units such as bomb squads and SWAT teams. What is new are devices that can operate almost autonomously. Vehicles, winged and wheeled, now have the capability to operate based on programming. They then respond to changes, environmental or electronic, with predetermined and programmed responses.
The ability to enhance the current capabilities of public safety agencies by leveraging the skills of the human resources is here. With technology, we could enhance the ability to observe and identify objects through thermal imaging and digital recognition of activities and objects. With the advancement of sensors, we could increase the ability to detect explosive components, gases and other harmful elements.