Computers have changed the way people communicate and work. In police departments, computerized information systems have become an integral part of the war on crime. For example, the New York CIty Police Department has used CompStat, a computerized crime tracking system, with success. Other police departments around the country have also adopted that integrated information and management system for policing.
Computers have become essential to communication within police departments. While specific technological needs vary by police department, it is now common for members of police departments to have computers located directly at their desks or workstations. Emails, website updates, blogs and other forms of digital communication have become some of the primary forms of communication in police departments, allowing for the rapid exchange of ideas and other information that can be critical in many investigations.
Research and Detective Work
With access to nearly limitless stores of information online, police detectives can use Internet resources to quickly find out facts and information regarding specific cases. This might involve researching particular facts or even something as simple as looking up a street address: in both cases, police officers can use computers to make detective work more efficient. Additionally, police officers can closely monitor suspects online, something that some police officers have taken advantage of using social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Records and Online Databases
Police organizations have also come to rely on computers as a form of record keeping and as a means of connecting police information from one department with information from another department. Not only can police officers store records and reports in online databases, but they can also use computers and hard drives to store thousands of images, reports and videos. Computers make mass storage possible, and enable giant online databases that can accurately ID suspects anywhere in the country.
Police departments utilize computers in police vehicles. Computers make it possible for mobile police units to look up information, run license plates and find locations while on the road. There have been some concerns that these computers distract police officers on the road, and many departments are looking for more efficient computers to use in police vehicles.
Computers have become a vital part of security operations at police departments, specifically those that also have a jail or prison. Oftentimes, jails are secured using a combination of manual safeguards, such as bars, keys and heavy doors, along with computer systems that control some of these safeguards. Additionally, computer systems are used in conjunction with video cameras to provide internal surveillance and to ensure the safety of prisoners and officers.
- University of California: Center for Research on Information Technology and Organizations
- "Federal Computer Week": Police Departments Combing Through Facebook, Twitter for Evidence Against Suspects
- Seattle Police: Online Police Reports
- Newser.com: Police Seek Broader DNA Database
- KVUE News: Police Car Computer Changes to Cut Down on Distracted Driving
- Monroe County: Jail Facility Electronic Control System
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