These trends are likely to continue having a significant impact at all levels of law enforcement including local, state, and federal. Here we present four trends that are most likely to affect law enforcement in 2018.
The number of incidences of domestic terrorism is expected to continue increasing leading to significant challenges at all levels of law enforcement. Incidents such as these are occurring in every state, forcing all sizes of law enforcement agencies to refocus their energies and work to modify their more traditional training techniques to better fit in with being able to combat domestic terrorism. This training should include recognizing “potential indicators” that an attack is imminent, understanding how the process of “radicalization” works, and an improvement in cooperation between all levels of law enforcement.
The Upswing in Vehicle Attacks
It is thought that in the very near future, vehicle attacks on crowds by bombing, suicide bombing, and simply driving into them, is going to the weapon of choice by terrorists. According to a report issued by the Transportation Security Administration, during the years 2014 through 2017, there were 17 known vehicle terror attacks in cities like New York, London, Paris, Barcelona, and Edmonton. These were all attacks using a vehicle to ram into crowds resulting in 173 deaths and approximately 667 injuries. The number of attacks is only likely to continue increasing in 2018.
The Continued Emergence of Long-Range Shooter Attacks
The ability to use long-range shooter or sniper type activities to injure and kill multiple people in large crowds such as happened in New York and Las Vegas has proven to be all too successful. The Las Vegas attack alone was responsible for 58 deaths and approximately 851 injured. With such large gatherings the norm across the nation, the number of these attacks are expected to continue growing. Law enforcement officers are now being trained to scan and search for such possibilities as far as 1,000 yards out along with enhanced training in how to recognize potential problem areas in the perimeter and how to identify assailants with ill-intent. At the same time, many law enforcement departments are now creating their own neutralization teams complete with marksmen (snipers) trained to take out shooters and other potential assailants.
Increased Public and Private Assessment of Police Behavior
The more active law enforcement officers become involved in doing their jobs, the more they are likely to come under scrutiny by literally everyone from the city mayor to the federal government and from the press to the man on the street. The current trend towards independent investigation is expected to continue as many police departments continue to struggle with their public image in the continuing environment of LEO related shooting deaths continues.
These are just a few of the significant trends that are likely to be growing problems for law enforcement officers in 2018 and the foreseeable future as the nation continues to demand more and better protection, but at the same time always expects officers to behave appropriately when they are on duty. The job of law enforcement will continue to be more challenging each year, especially with recruiting numbers falling at drastic rates in most areas of the country.