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Info Center

Technology is transforming law enforcement and information -- and the ability to share it quickly and efficiently -- is the key to this transformation.

New and emerging technologies play  an increasingly crucial role in the daily work of frontline police officers, equipping them with enforcement and investigative tools that have the potential to make them better informed and more effective.

This section of our website is designed to provide statistics, guidance, suggestions, information and updates -- to keep the information flowing in an organized and useful manner.

Law enforcement use of computer technology has expanded substantially over the past two decades. Given the increasing power and diminishing costs of technology, the extensive growth in mobile communications infrastructure, and the expansion of innovative applications available, computer usage continues to increase in law enforcement agencies throughout the United States.

According to the 2007 LEMAS survey recently released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice,1 local police departments report using computers for a variety of law enforcement functions, including records management (79 percent), crime investigation (60 percent), information sharing (50 percent), and dispatch (49 percent). All larger police departments (that is, those serving populations of 250,000 or more) reported using computers for crime analysis and crime mapping (100 percent), and these functions were also automated in a vast majority of midsized agencies (that is, those serving populations of 25,000–249,999).

More than 90 percent of agencies serving populations of 25,000 or more reported having access to automated fingerprint identification systems (AFIS) and using infield computers (for example, mobile digital computers, terminals, and laptops) (see figure 1). In addition to the broad availability of infield computers, officers also had access to an expanding array of information including vehicle records (88 percent); driving records (81 percent); warrants (81 percent); protection orders (66 percent); interagency information sharing (60 percent); calls-for-service history (60 percent); and criminal history records (50 percent) (see table 1). Police departments of all sizes were much more likely to use electronic methods to transmit criminal incident reports to headquarters, with 60 percent of all agencies in 2007, compared to just 38 percent in 2003. Automating the transmission of incident reports is a critical element in building timely, accurate information and information-sharing capabilities.

In addition to infield computers, two-thirds of police departments throughout the nation reported regularly using video cameras, and well over half (61 percent) reported using video cameras in patrol cars. The deployment of in-car video cameras has increased markedly since the year 2000 in agencies of all sizes.

Information reprinted from the online article "Technology Is Playing an Expanding Role in Policing" by David J. Roberts, Senior Program Manager, IACP Technology Center