5 ways technology has changed our ability to solve crimes

Five Technological Advancements That Help Solve Crimes

  • Data Mapping Crime
  • Smartphone Tracking
  • Social Media
  • WiFi Capabilities
  • Biometrics

Students who are in the process of earning a criminal justice degree know how important technology has been to the field. Advancements in the last twenty years have provided law enforcement professionals with technologies that not only make their jobs easier but also keep them safe at the same time. While this list could be endless, here are five of the most important technological advancements that have aided in the battle against crime.

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1. Data Mapping

The trend of data mapping isn't new; in fact, weather and climate scientists have been doing it for decades. However, criminal justice professionals are also data mapping now, providing police departments as well as federal agencies with a clear geographical look at the types of crime and the volume of crime that happens in an area. This is beneficial to law enforcement because it shows trends that may be able to be traced back to certain locations; drug rings are a prime example of how data mapping can be useful to the police. It also helps the police pinpoint problems in a community and allows them to strategize effectively to help reduce crime.

2. Smartphone Tracking

While there is some debate about when and how smartphone tracking should be utilized by law enforcement, the ability to track a criminal through the use of their smartphone is an incredible advancement in technology. This technology, when accessed through legal channels, can provide law enforcement with a clear picture of a suspect's movements before, during, and after a crime. For those innocent of the crime they are accused of, the technology can save them from a criminal trial; for those who are guilty, the tracking capability of this common object can seal their fate.

3. Social Media

Social media has had a large impact on law enforcement. Many law enforcement agencies and police departments have dedicated social media accounts on various platforms, enabling them to engage with their communities and act on tips in real time. This has become invaluable for solving crimes because it enables the police or other law enforcement to get up-to-the-minute information on an ongoing crime or a recent crime simply by paying attention to their social media feeds. It is also useful for gauging how a community feels about their interactions with the police; it is now clear that having direct engagement with law enforcement builds trust, enabling victims and witnesses to come forward with information on crimes.

4. Surveillance and WiFi Capabilities

Forbes points out in this article that surveillance advancements, which are aided by WiFi, may actually deter repeat criminal behavior. The idea is that by restricting a convicted criminal's movements to their home, law enforcement can free up prison space and make it easier for a criminal to be rehabilitated in their own community. This, of course, is limited to nonviolent offenders and would be of immense benefit to drug offenders; the technology would go hand-in-hand with rehabilitation and counseling. This is a technology that is being rolled out in small ways throughout the country but it has the ability to become a part of the criminal justice field in a way that benefits both the offender and the law enforcement officials who are trying to reduce repeat criminal behavior.

5. Biometrics

Most Americans are used to biometrics; it is the technology that enables them to unlock their smartphones with a fingerprint or an iris scan. This technology has been around for decades but only recently has it become accessible to the public. The criminal justice field has now taken that technology and created smaller identification devices that make it possible to spot criminals with past records or outstanding warrants without having to wait for a process that could take weeks or months. These handheld devices can be used at a crime scene to collect digital fingerprints and then used on witnesses to see if a perpetrator is still at the scene of a crime.

Technology continues to improve law enforcement and, in turn, the relationship between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve. By providing various ways of dealing with crime, technology has made communities safer places to live and work in. With more advancements on the horizon, professionals who are seeking a criminal justice degree will find that technology will continue to play a large role in how the criminal justice field will look in the years to come.