From Body Cams to Drones – Winning the Fight

Despite the continued advancement in high-tech devices available to law enforcement officers today, a certain amount of crime will always remain. While it might be technically possible for law enforcement to eliminate virtually all crime, the high cost of running such a dystopian police state such as that portrayed in George Orwell’s novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four” makes it highly unlikely.

Nineteen Eighty-Four Becomes Reality
In his novel, Orwell predicted a state in which the public’s every move was watched by millions of CCTV cameras manned by an even larger number of law enforcement officers. Back in 1949, when this book was written, no one ever thought this could happen. Yet if you go to the U.K. it won’t take you long to see the countless CCTV cameras mounted virtually everywhere.

It would seem that Orwell’s view of the future that so many scoffed at back in 1949 when it was written, is now becoming more of a reality than most want to believe. From police operated CCTV cameras to those owned and operated by private citizens, in the U.K. you are constantly being watched by someone unless you are in the privacy of your own home.

Technology Continues to Prove Its Worth
Technologies such as the telephone, two-way radios, polygraphs, even fingerprinting have all advanced the abilities of law enforcement. Here in the U.S., the universal emergency phone number 911 came into being in 1968. Over the course of the next 30 years, we have seen a rise in community policing, DNA technology and testing, computerization. These new technologies have been followed by the development of body cams and rapid advancements in crime prevention strategies.

Once the standard camera was considered a vital tool in solving crime, but today the average camera has been relegated to the history files. The use of CCTV, body cams, dash cams, and smartphones with very capable cameras, have rendered them virtually worthless. Cameras are also being mounted on unmanned aerial drones that can provide still shots or live video feeds. Law enforcement also has the ability to track people using their cell phones.

Not as Effective as Hoped
While there are an estimated 4 to 5.9 million CCTV cameras in use in the U.K. covering an estimated 65 million residents, research has shown that their use in reducing crime has not been as effective as had been hoped. The problem is that criminals who are intent on committing crimes already know of their existence and how to avoid being recognized by those operating the cameras. For instance, pulling a hood over your head is enough to ensure they are not recognizable.

In 2012, the FAA passed new regulations making it possible for law enforcement agencies could use drones equipped with cameras. This technology could be adapted in the future to include drones equipped with weaponry, drones that could serve warrants, and much more. Technology exists that allows the video captured by these drones to be fed into highly capable face recognition software. Accordingly, the FBI currently maintains a database that now contains over 30 million mug shots, a number that grows every day.

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