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Technological Innovation in Law Enforcement Research Paper

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Updated: Nov 7th, 2020


Nowadays, technology innovations drive service improvement efforts in multiple areas including law enforcement. Present-day police officers can use a great variety of devices including body-worn cameras, locator technologies, drones, and even social media to ensure public safety. Although many advantages can be gained by using such tools, technological advances provoke many concerns as well because the same devices may be used to commit crimes and violate the rights of others. Thus, in this paper, we will review the pros and cons of technology use in law enforcement endeavors and analyze some examples to illustrate their possible effects.


First of all, technology allows for increasing operational efficiency and employee safety. For instance, such automatic devices as drones now can be used to access the areas where police officers simply cannot reach. The unmanned patrol and area monitoring with drones has significant strategic value because they provide real-time visual information to the police that can assist in choosing the most appropriate response to a dangerous situation without risking officers’ health and lives (Roufa, 2017).

Another frequently used device, the body-worn camera, allows recording all daily activities of police officers and, in this way, the device may control the behaviors of both citizens and the person who wears it. The recorded data can serve to justify the use of force by the police, investigate crimes in detail, and assess the overall legitimacy of officers’ actions. It can help receive additional evidence related to a legal case and, in this way, may have a significant effect on its outcome (“Police technology,” n.d.).

The police may also employ social media to solve crimes. For instance, it becomes a common practice to analyze Facebook posts or YouTube videos to locate criminals. It is observed that many criminals themselves often post information about their intended or committed crime or victims share information about crime on social media before referring to the police (“Law enforcement officials weigh the pros and cons of social media,” 2015). By detecting these hints promptly, the police can improve its crime-fighting capabilities.


The major disadvantage refers to such risks associated with modern high-end information technologies as data breaching, data abuse, and hacking. Nowadays, many police departments use data security and identification systems that store biometrics and private information of individuals. They indeed help identify criminals faster and with greater precision. Nevertheless, the confidential information of millions of people can be exposed in case of a breach, and it may threaten their safety.

Data safety can be jeopardized due to both internal and external factors such as ineffective protection of data, theft or hacking by employees or individuals not related to the organization, and unintentional loss of data (Holtfreter & Harrington, 2016). As stated by Holtfreter and Harrington (2016), non-employees, third parties, and hackers are responsible for over 70% of all compromised records. However, the lack of awareness of the safety standards in police officers, as well as the use of ineffective safety protocols, can undermine the system security as well.

Utilization of Technology in Crime Commission

Identity theft, social media scams, and unauthorized access to computer systems may be considered the most common types of crimes committed with the use of technology. However, sometimes online information may also assist criminals in offline thefts. It happened in one of the recent cases when the holiday villa which F1 driver, Jenson Button, rented was robbed. The investigators suggested the robbers could identify the exact moment when they could break-in by using the location tags that the driver’s wife added to her Instagram posts (Hutchinson, 2015). It shows that criminals may use the same methods as police officers and also indicates that the storage of personal information in cyberspace is related to major safety risks.

Use of Technology in Crime Investigation

A social media information can be helpful in the prosecution of criminals as well. In the case that occurred in 2015, victims’ complaints posted on Facebook helped identify a man impersonating a police officer near Correctionville and Anthon, Iowa. The thing is that the victims stopped by this suspicious man did not refer to the police directly but instead preferred to share the plights on their social media pages, so the posts became the primary sources of information about the suspect and the circumstances of the case (Kaufman, 2015). The witnesses described the characteristic features of the man, his clothes, and the car model, and these data were extremely useful in the prosecution process.


Overall, it is possible to say that modern technological innovations significantly help police officers in their work. First of all, they increase work efficiency and reduce time costs associated with documentation and record-keeping allowing specialists to focus on more important tasks. New technologies described in the paper provide opportunities to improve police performance and sometimes even play a decisive role in investigation outcomes.

For instance, it is known that advanced DNA sequencing technologies allowed finding new clues in some cold murder cases that could not be resolved for years. Thus, it is certain that technologies do not hinder law enforcement efforts. On the contrary, they often accelerate progress. When all safety precautions are followed, technology may become an excellent assistant in various activities of any police officer.


Holtfreter, R., & Harrington, A. (2016) . Fraud Magazine. Web.

Hutchinson, A. (2015). . Social Media Today. Web.

Kaufman, K. (2015). Law enforcement officials use social media to help solve cases, bond with communities. Sioux City Journal. Web.

. (2015). Web.

. (n.d.). Web.

Roufa, T. (2017). Technologies that are changing the way police do business. The Balance. Web.

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