Technology Transforms Policing, But Gadgets Can Be Costly


Technology is transforming law enforcement, but it comes at a price, reports the Columbus Dispatch. Digital fingerprinting, bar-coded evidence rooms, in-car wireless cameras, electronic record systems and other features have become commonplace for many police agencies. They allow agencies to run more efficiently, often with fewer people, officials say. A Columbus deputy chief called technology “a force multiplier.” But gadgets cost money and can require training, upgrades and a support staff. For some cash-strapped agencies, technology upgrades are not viable.

That’s why the national Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies doesn’t mandate specific technologies in its accreditation visits every three years. As long as an agency has a working records system, for example, the commission doesn’t care if it’s digital or on paper. “We require what has to be accomplished, and how they accomplish it is best left to the agency and their resources,” said Jim Brown, the commission’s associate director. Many agencies look to grants or drug-seizure money to pay for technology.

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