Role of Tech­nol­ogy in Law En­force­ment

SP's LandForces - - FRONT PAGE - Lt Gen­eral P.C. Ka­toch (Retd)

Re­mark­able new dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies are trans­form­ing the ways po­lice pro­tect and serve, al­low­ing agen­cies to pre­vent crimes more ef­fec­tively and solve crimes faster. There is need for keep­ing pace with tech­nolo­gies that as­sist law en­force­ment glob­ally and adopt them, as suited to In­dian en­vi­ron­ment.

Re­mark­able new dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies are trans­form­ing the ways po­lice pro­tect and serve, al­low­ing agen­cies to pre­vent crimes more ef­fec­tively and solve crimes faster. There is need for keep­ing pace with tech­nolo­gies that as­sist law en­force­ment glob­ally and adopt them, as suited to In­dian en­vi­ron­ment.

NEARLY EV­ERY AS­PECT OF our lives, ac­tiv­ity and in­dus­try has been trans­formed by tech­nol­ogy over the last few decades. Law en­force­ment tech­nol­ogy is one ex­am­ple of ad­vance­ments that have changed the way law en­force­ment pro­fes­sion­als in­ves­ti­gate crimes. The sanc­tioned and ac­tual strength of po­lice per­son­nel at all-In­dia level per one lakh pop­u­la­tion is 181.47. On July 26, 2016, Par­lia­ment was told In­dia was short of more than half a mil­lion po­lice of­fi­cers; there were 17.2 mil­lion po­lice of­fi­cers across 36 states and union ter­ri­to­ries, when there should have been 22.6 mil­lion – an of­fi­cer for ev­ery 547 In­di­ans as sanc­tioned strength, but the num­ber was one for ev­ery 720. While more po­lice do not nec­es­sar­ily mean less crime, but tech­nol­ogy in to­day’s world is es­sen­tial for law en­force­ment and crime res­o­lu­tion. Be­sides, tech­nol­ogy does com­pen­sate for poor pop­u­la­tion to po­lice ra­tio to some ex­tent.

Po­lice re­forms in In­dia have been slow; tech­nol­ogy is catch­ing up but in spurts. Re­mark­able new dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies are trans­form­ing the ways po­lice pro­tect and serve, al­low­ing agen­cies to pre­vent crimes more ef­fec­tively and solve crimes faster. There is need for keep­ing pace with tech­nolo­gies that as­sist law en­force­ment glob­ally and adopt them, as suited to In­dian en­vi­ron­ment.

Sur­veil­lance and Mon­i­tor­ing

CCTV. Com­mon in most met­ros in In­dia. Th­ese ef­fec­tively as­sist law en­force­ment pro­vided they are func­tional. For ex­am­ple, in the re­cent case in NOIDA a vet­eran Army Colonel was beaten up, ar­rested, hand­cuffed and tor­tured on fraud­u­lent charges by an ADM, Muzaf­far­na­gar and his wife on fake charges un­der the SC/ST Act, the of­fi­cer was granted bail dur­ing the first hear­ing af­ter six days be­cause CCTV footage clearly showed the high­hand­ed­ness of the ADM, his aides and the po­lice. CCTV cam­eras along roads ant toll bar­ri­ers have also helped solve crimes by ex­am­in­ing move­ment of sus­pects. Same is the case in CCTV cov­er­age of ar­eas like mar­ket places that can iden­tify sus­pects in­clud­ing sus­pi­cious ac­tiv­ity like plant­ing bombs/IEDs. Drones. Law en­force­ment agen­cies are us­ing drones for a va­ri­ety of func­tions pro­vid­ing cost-ef­fec­tive so­lu­tions. They can pro­vide real-time in­for­ma­tion to po­lice and crime an­a­lysts vi­tal in­for­ma­tion about crimes in progress and dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tions, as they un­fold. It can help po­lice bet­ter plan re­sponses and save lives. Drones can cap­ture and even live stream video and im­ages of crimes as they oc­cur, pro­vid­ing cru­cial ev­i­dence in fu­ture court pro­ceed­ings. Help­ing in po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tions and ar­eas where po­lice of­fi­cers can­not reach, drones have re­placed he­li­copters for mon­i­tor­ing and sur­veil­lance. Un­manned drones can help ev­ery­thing from res­cue mis­sions, pa­trolling borders, find­ing lost per­son­nel, mon­i­tor­ing large gath­er­ing and pro­ces­sions, etc. As the tech­no­log­i­cal ca­pa­bil­i­ties of drones in­crease, their use for law en­force­ment is ex­pand­ing into gath­er­ing key in­for­ma­tion about crimes as they un­fold. Body-Worn Cam­eras and In-Car Videos. Po­lice of­fi­cers in some coun­tries use body-worn cam­eras for bet­ter ev­i­dence doc­u­men­ta­tion, in­creased ac­count­abil­ity and trans­parency. How­ever, the costs of im­ple­ment­ing body­worn cam­eras be­sides the cost of cam­eras, in­clude an­cil­lary equip­ment like tablets, data stor­age and man­age­ment, train­ing, ad­min­is­tra­tion, and dis­clo­sure. At the same time, their us­age faces is­sues like pri­vacy, po­lice ver­sus com­mu­nity con­cerns, data re­ten­tion and pub­lic dis­clo­sure poli­cies, and fi­nan­cial con­sid­er­a­tions.

Global Po­si­tion­ing Sys­tem (GPS). GPS ap­pli­ca­tions are con­tin­u­ing to ex­pand into the law en­force­ment com­mu­nity. Us­ing GPS tech­nol­ogy, po­lice can pin­point the lo­ca­tion of a call and de­ter­mine the fastest and safest route to it, get­ting peo­ple the help they need more ef­fi­ciently and timely. Po­lice can record lo­ca­tion of their traf­fic stops and crash in­ves­ti­ga­tions, and that in­for­ma­tion can be ex­ported to maps to de­ter­mine how en­force­ment ef­forts can be bet­ter fo­cused on de­creas­ing the oc­cur­rences of traf­fic crashes. GPS tech­nol­ogy can also be used by crime an­a­lysts to help iden­tify emerg­ing trends in crime lo­ca­tions and help bet­ter plan for shift staffing and pa­trol as­sign­ments. Au­to­matic Tag and Li­cense Plate Read­ers. Mounted to the ex­te­rior of pa­trol cars, elec­tronic tag read­ers are be­com­ing more preva­lent among larger de­part­ments and traf­fic-ori­ented agen­cies. Us­ing cam­eras con­nected to ve­hi­cle in­for­ma­tion data­bases, elec­tronic tag read­ers in­stantly an­a­lyze li­cense plates on ev­ery ve­hi­cle that comes within their range of view.

Bio­met­rics for Data Se­cu­rity and Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion

Bio­met­rics and Hand-Held Fin­ger­print Scan­ners. Use of bio­met­rics us­ing unique bi­o­log­i­cal traits such as fin­ger­prints, retina scans, and DNA to iden­tify in­di­vid­u­als is rapidly in­creas­ing among law en­force­ment cir­cles. As tech­nol­ogy be­comes cheaper, smaller, more por­ta­ble and read­ily avail­able, po­lice are able to use hand­held scan­ners to in­stantly iden­tify in­di­vid­u­als with crim­i­nal pasts. Scan­ners built into lap­top com­put­ers pro­vide added se­cu­rity to en­sure no unau­tho­rized per­son can gain ac­cess to sen­si­tive in­tel­li­gence and per­sonal in­for­ma­tion. DNA data­bases and soft­ware con­tinue to im­prove, re­duc­ing the time and the back­log that once served as ma­jor im­ped­i­ments to solv­ing crimes. Brain Fin­ger­print­ing. ‘Brain­wave Science’ has de­vel­oped tech­nol­ogy that helps po­lice es­tab­lish guilt or in­no­cence based on scan­ning brain­waves. Brain fin­ger­print­ing uses brain scans to cap­ture how a crime sus­pect’s brain re­acts when be­ing questioned by po­lice and de­ter­mines whether a per­son be­ing questioned re­mem­bers a par­tic­u­lar item or sit­u­a­tion. Po­lice are then able to po­ten­tially iden­tify or elim­i­nate sus­pects based on th­ese scan re­sults.

Google Glass, HoloLens and Aug­mented Re­al­ity

Driv­ing on na­tional high­ways in In­dia, one of­ten ob­serves mo­bile in­ter­cep­tors for speed checks by the po­lice. Us­ing soft­ware espe­cially de­signed for Google Glass, po­lice of­fi­cers take pho­tographs of traf­fic vi­o­la­tions and in­stantly up­load them to their po­lice depart­ment’s sys­tem. The pho­to­graph cap­tures the date, time and place that the pic­ture was taken along with the li­cense plate num­ber. Even if the po­lice don’t phys­i­cally catch you, that speed­ing ticket may still be in the mail.

More ad­vance­ments in tech­nol­ogy are on the anvil. For ex­am­ple, as a policeman walks on pa­trol, his spe­cial glasses are record­ing and an­a­lyz­ing ev­ery­thing he sees. A built-in screen pro­vides in­for­ma­tion about the busi­nesses, homes, and ve­hi­cles he looks at, while fa­cial recog­ni­tion soft­ware pro­vides real-time in­for­ma­tion about the peo­ple he passes, let­ting him know if any­one matches de­scrip­tions of some­one wanted. With the ad­vent of Google Glass, this is be­com­ing a very real pos­si­bil­ity. Both the soft­ware and the data for such a sce­nario is al­ready avail­able; fa­cial recog­ni­tion has been in ex­is­tence for a decade, and sim­ple smart­phone apps are al­ready pro­vide an aug­mented re­al­ity ex­pe­ri­ence us­ing the phone’s cam­era. It is only a mat­ter of time be­fore of­fi­cers on the street will be able to have built-in heads-up dis­plays that pro­vided them with a host of data to help them pa­trol more ef­fec­tively and ef­fi­ciently and keep them and their charges safe.

Use of So­cial Me­dia

For law en­force­ment agen­cies and crime an­a­lysts, so­cial me­dia is prov­ing it­self to be a cru­cial crim­i­nal jus­tice tool in gath­er­ing in­tel­li­gence, lo­cat­ing clues and even screen­ing can­di­dates for em­ploy­ment. There have been nu­mer­ous cases of po­lice thwart­ing or solv­ing crimes based on tips gleaned from so­cial me­dia posts, as also un­de­tected crimes have been suc­cess­fully pros­e­cuted as a re­sult of videos posted on so­cial me­dia. How­ever, the po­ten­tial of so­cial me­dia as a crime-fight­ing tool is only just be­gin­ning to be re­al­ized.

Pre­dic­tive-An­a­lyt­ics Soft­ware

PredPol is a soft­ware de­vel­oped in the US that can pre­dict where and what time the next crime will prob­a­bly oc­cur. It helps find crim­i­nal pat­terns and be­hav­iors and de­ploy po­lice ac­cord­ingly. PredPol is based on the ob­ser­va­tion that cer­tain crime types tend to clus­ter in time and space. It takes daily feeds from each depart­ment’s Record Man­age­ment Sys­tem for the pre­dict­ing en­gine, which is run once a day to cre­ate pre­dic­tions for each beat, shift and mis­sion type. Us­ing this tech­nol­ogy, po­lice agen­cies have seen ef­fi­cien­cies in staffing shifts and dra­matic cuts in crime.

Con­clu­sion

Tech­nol­ogy con­tin­ues to ad­vance and other ca­reers in crim­i­nol­ogy and crim­i­nal jus­tice. The New York City Po­lice, in con­junc­tion Mi­crosoft Cor­po­ra­tion, has de­ployed ‘Dash­board’, a do­main aware­ness sys­tem that ties in data from host of avail­able sources, in­clud­ing Com­puter Aided Dis­patch, crime re­ports and crim­i­nal his­to­ries, maps and even cam­eras to pro­vide in­stant ac­cess to real-time in­for­ma­tion, pic­tures and video about calls in progress. This com­pre­hen­sive in­for­ma­tion is avail­able to po­lice of­fi­cers and crime an­a­lysts at a glance, al­low­ing them to for­mu­late a re­sponse to any given call bet­ter. Our law en­force­ment agen­cies must aim for such type of do­main aware­ness sys­tem, which should not be prob­lem­atic given our prow­ess in in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy. The use of tech­nol­ogy in crim­i­nal jus­tice will con­tinue to al­low crime fighters to fur­ther their abil­ity to serve and pro­tect their re­spec­tive com­mu­ni­ties. We must keep up­grad­ing tech­nol­ogy for bet­ter and quicker law en­force­ment.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: MESA COUNTY SHER­IFF’S DEPART­MENT

A Dra­gan­flyer X6 UAV used by the Mesa County Sher­iff’s Depart­ment un­manned op­er­a­tions team. As the tech­no­log­i­cal ca­pa­bil­i­ties of drones in­crease, their use for law en­force­ment is ex­pand­ing into gath­er­ing key in­for­ma­tion about crimes as they un­fold.

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