Friday, January 6, 2012

How Police Technology Has Changed...

There have been monumental changes in policing in the last century.  The majority of these changes are due to significant advances in technology.  Below is just a highlight of some of the most monumental technological advances in policing, most of which are still in use today...

1901 - Scotland Yard adopts a fingerprint classification system devised by Sir Edward Richard Henry.  Subsequent fingerprint classification systems are generally extension of Henry's system.

1923 - The Los Angeles Police Department establishes the first police department crime laboratory in the United States.

1928 - Detroit police begin using the one-way radio.

1934 - Boston police begin using the two-way radio.

1948 - Radar is introduced to traffic law enforcement.

1955 - The New Orleans Police Department installs an electronic data processing machine, possibly the first department in the country to do so.  The machine is not a computer, but a punch card sorter and collator.  It summarizes arrests and warrants.

1960 - The first computer-assisted dispatching system is installed in the St. Louis police department.

1967 - The President's Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice concludes that the "police, with crime laboratories and radio networks, made early use of technology, but most police departments could have been equipped 30 or 40 years ago as well as they are today."

1968 - AT&T announces it will establish a special number -- 911 -- for emergency calls to the police, fire and other emergency services. Within several years, 911 systems are in widespread use in large urban areas.

1960's - Beginning in the late 1960s, there are many attempts to develop riot control technologies and use-of-force alternatives to the police service revolver and baton. Tried and abandoned or not widely adopted are wooden, rubber and plastic bullets; dart guns adapted from the veterinarian's tranquilizer gun that inject a drug when fired; an electrified water jet; a baton that carries a 6,000-volt shock; chemicals that make streets extremely slippery; strobe lights that cause giddiness, fainting and nausea; and the stun gun that, when pressed to the body, delivers a 50,000-volt shock that disables its victim for several minutes. One of the few technologies to successfully emerge is the TASER which shoots two wire-controlled, tiny darts into its victim or the victim's clothes and delivers a 50,000-volt shock. By 1985, police in every state have used the TASER, but its popularity is restricted owing to its limited range and limitations in affecting the drug- and alcohol-intoxicated. Some agencies adopt bean bag rounds for crowd control purposes.

1970's - The large-scale computerization of U.S. police departments begins. Major computer-based applications in the 1970s include computer-assisted dispatch (CAD), management information systems, centralized call collection using three-digit phone numbers (911), and centralized integrated dispatching of police, fire, and medical services for large metropolitan areas.

1982 - Pepper spray, widely used by the police as a force alternative, is first developed. Pepper spray is Oleoresin Capsicum (OC), which is synthesized from capsaicin, a colorless, crystalline, bitter compound present in hot peppers.

1993 - More than 90 percent of U.S. police departments serving a population of 50,000 or more are using computers. Many are using them for such relatively sophisticated applications as criminal investigations, budgeting, dispatch, and manpower allocation.

2002 - European country design and implement a software that allows a camera to scan and interpret license plate numbers from vehicle plates. From here, automated license plate recognition software begins to spread throughout the world, significantly increasing officer safety and enforcement.

Technology is also continuing to flourish in regards to police technology.  More recently, departments have begun to use smart boards in their department.  These boards can show a map with the location of every patrol car (including their last few stops), as well as all dispatch locations.  One can only wonder what future advances will be to the safety and effectiveness of police.

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