From Cell Phone To Cell
The mutual pursuit of technology among both criminals and law enforcement personnel is steering the future of crime detection. Just as law enforcement relies on technology to improve their work, criminals have also implemented new devices to confound police. Cell phones and pagers, for instance, have added a layer of elusiveness to drug dealers, as in the past, telephone calls that were intercepted could always be traced back to a house. Prepaid cell phones are even harder to trace, as they are frequently thrown away after the minutes run out.
Cell phones aid police, too, as they offer an avenue of communication more secure than the traditional scanner.
The Internet has opened the door to a whole new array of scams, as criminals prey on chat rooms and often plan drug deals over the Internet. The advent of wireless technology has made it even harder to track Internet usage, which is the source of many financial crimes.
High resolution scanners and computers have improved the quality of fake IDs. The speed with which digital photographs can be emailed facilitates greater cooperation between departments. Web sites are also a useful public forum for law enforcement personnel, as they can enlist the public’s help and monitor parallel investigations in other jurisdictions, a development which some are hopeful could lead to the ability to predict crime based on demonstrated habits.
Fingerprints are now frequently taken digitally, and many officers carry data terminals in their cruisers, which can instantly conduct background and probation checks.
Other innovations, including night vision goggles, thermal imaging, and GPS tracking are also transforming the law enforcement profession, though officers are to be mindful that no technology can replace the value of walking a beat and talking to people.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the Worcester Telegram & Gazette (MA) (08/21/05) P. B1; Croteau, Scott J.