Commentary and information about public safety and security, intelligence and counterintelligence, open government and secrecy, and other issues in northern Idaho and eastern Washington.

Location: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States

Raised in Palouse, WA. Graduated from Washington State University. US Army (Counterintelligence). US Secret Service (Technical Security Division) in Fantasyland-on-the-Potomac and Los Angeles. Now living in north Idaho.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Law Enforcement Technology - Introduction

The term "law enforcement technology" is fundamentally misleading. Very little new technology is developed first for law enforcement. There's just not enough money in it. Consequently, most law enforcement technology is trickle down (apologies to David Stockman). It enters law enforcement after being less useful and therefore less marketable in the discipline for which it was initially developed.

Often, law enforcement technology is derived from the US military or other US government agencies' contracts. A reduction in federal budgeting for massively profitable contracts coupled with continuing advances in various technologies, principally those connected with the various electronic intelligence efforts, results in contractors scrambling to find viable markets for their products at once technologically obsolete for the Feds but highly advanced for the Locals. The first charge-coupled-device miniature cameras used in law enforcement evolved from the spy satellite programs as well as from industrial inspection processes.

Law enforcement technology is also derived from other private industries such as medicine and the entertainment industry. Imagery technology (fluoroscopic or radiographic) once limited to doctors is now regularly used by public safety bomb squads and airlines. Audio devices such as body worn tape recorders used in the motion picture industry found their way into law enforcement.

On November 29 and 30 and December 1, 2004, I was the guest lecturer in Criminal Justice 382 - Organization and Administration at Eastern Washington University, Cheney, Washington. The topic I chose was "Law Enforcement Technology", and the series was entitled "The Technology Tornado - Criminal Justice Meets the Wizard of Oz." Today's posting is from the Introduction to those lectures.

For a few days, I am going to post on the remaining topics covered in those lectures. There will be little about toys (cop-speak for law enforcement technology). Rather, it will be more about how agency heads can prepare themselves to recognize the challenges of technology and use technology most effectively.

By the way, the title for the lecture series, "The Technology Tornado - Criminal Justice Meets the Wizard of Oz," was inspired by The Wizard of Oz. The administration of the criminal justice technology process is similar to a tornado: Lots of stuff happening and flying around all over the place with a lot of administrators hoping a house doesn't fall on them in the process!

Other topics to be covered include:
- Needs identification
- Researching technology
- Law, ethics, morality of technology
- Agency policy development and compliance
- Procuring technology
- Training to use technology
- Deploying the technology
- Supervising those who use technology
- Measuring how well or how poorly technology meets needs
- User and supervisor feedback
- Preventive and corrective maintenance
- Upgrades and replacement
- Adjusting to rapid changes in technology


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