As one would expect, the police are aggressive, noticeable and thespian. It is easy for them to happen to be the objects and representatives of order, jeopardy, and inscrutability. They not only mark the boundaries of an urbane organization and regulation but also are the boundary markers themselves. They have vast authority over the legal resources including lethal and nonlethal weapons, specialized vehicles, adequate personnel etc. (Manning, 2008). In American society, the most significant revolution taking place in policing today is possibly associated with information technology. A majority of the police agencies are using the Internet to transmit information to the public. They are also making use of cell phones to be in touch with others while in the field. Moreover, mobile computers are also being used in order to retrieve information straight away. Nevertheless, it is crystal clear that this is just the beginning. The information technology will advance and would have an extensive and influential impact on policing and other law enforcing methods in the future. Today, the police in the United States of America are facing countless challenges. Many changes have been forced on the police due to technological advancements, changes in demography, economy's state and the war on terrorism. It is obvious that, sooner or later, the policing methods in America will not be the same as what it is these days (Walker & Katz, 2010).
Technology Used in Policing
In the early 20th century, the head of Berkeley's Police Department, August Vollmer, rendered valuable services for bringing in technological advances in policing. It was under his supervision that the law enforcement forces increased their mobility through motor vehicle patrol. He ordered those under him to communicate through telephones and radios to enhance officer -- precinct interactions (Grant & Terry, 2008). Since then, the American police in using an assortment of technology devices and applications. This technological advancement has helped the department to be more efficient, competent, resourceful, proficient and well-organized. Some of the technologies used by police force nowadays are described underneath.
1. Geographic Information System (GIS): This system uses topographical characteristics and maps generated by computers for combining and accessing considerable amounts of location-based information. It allows police officers to prepare for emergency response efficiently, find out the main concerns regarding mitigation, analyze chronological trials, and envisage upcoming events. GIS is also helpful in the identification process of the potential suspects that ultimately increases the investigators' suspect base in situations when no leads are apparent (Johnson, 2000).
2. Geographic Profiling: It is the collective utilization of natural features of land, psychology, and mathematics for identifying the position of a criminal (Grant & Terry, 2008).
3. Closed-Circuit Television: The images caught through closed-circuit televisions are used as evidence against the criminals and wrongdoers (Grant & Terry, 2008).
4. Global Positioning Systems (GPS): GPS use satellite-based technologies for following the movement of patrol cars and other equipped vehicles. This technology has drastically improved in-flight photography of locations where crimes take place (Grant & Terry, 2008).
5. Biometrics: By identifying the psychological and behavioral state of the individuals, biometrics helps a lot during police investigations. The technologies included in it are "voice recognition, fingerprint identification, lip movement, retinal scanning, facial recognition software, DNA profiling, thermal imagery, and iris/retinal scanning" (Grant & Terry, 2008) and so on.
6. Database and Information Technology: Computerized databases allow the police to accumulate and recover immense amounts of information regarding criminal(s) that are obtained from a number of sources (Walker & Katz, 2010).
7. Computer-Aided Dispatch: This technology offers police departments a means of communication with police officers in the field that is quicker and more efficient. It instantly sends important information to officers' mobile computers. These systems also improve the safety of officers by monitoring their status (Walker & Katz, 2010).
8. Records Management Systems: They are used for storing and organizing relevant information from diverse reports in an easily accessible format (Walker & Katz, 2010).
9. COMPSTAT: It provides well-timed data on crime by using computerized data management. This system also assists in crime mapping and thus allows the police officers to focus on particular vicinity (Walker & Katz, 2010).
10. License Plate Readers: LPRs or tag readers are put in on police vehicles and various other sites like traffic intersections, highway entrances and exits to recognize and discover stolen cars and vehicles parked unlawfully (Walker & Katz, 2010).
Almost all the technologies discussed above enhance and increase the police organizations' capabilities to function in an efficient manner.
Less-Than-Lethal Weapons and Their Effects on Policing
Whenever a police officer is found to have used a deadly weapon or force, the general public is left questioning if it was indispensable or not. To put in simple words, the use of lethal and fatal force has always been a hot issue. Therefore, in America, the police forces are expected to use less lethal but devastating weapons if they are caught in a dangerous situation. Some of the examples of the less-than-lethal weapons are thermal guns which are used for weakening the suspect by raising his/her body temperature at a very fast rate. Others are shotguns that fire nets, strobe lights that blind a suspect for the time being, drug-tipped darts, bean bags that are full of metallic explosive material and are fired from a converted grenade launcher, pepper spray etc.. These weapons are also controversial as they are also dangerous for the target. However, they are called "less-than-lethal" because each of them bears an intrinsic threat of causing physical injury or damage. Pepper sprays are the most commonly used less-than-lethal weapons by the American police officers as they cause minor injuries without causing death. The bean bags are only used by the Riot Control unit. They are only used in situations when the advancing officers carrying the conventional weapons need protection. The reason of using these bean bags is to give police alternatives between physical muscle and fatal force (Johns).
Thus, all the less-than-lethal weapons bestow police with the flexibility they require to act in response. Their usage is mainly to avoid accidental deaths and sufferings at the hands of the law enforcement agencies such as police.
Dangers Faced By Police And How The Police Organizations Address Those Dangers
Police officers counter a variety of risks and threats at work. They face murders, physical attacks, and infectious diseases, injuries during car crashes and regular violence and maltreatment. The risks are different according to the tasks the police officers are given. Sometimes they undertake traffic duties. At other times, they attend to street disorder and fracas. They are asked to arrest the offenders while at other scenarios, guard prisoners in watch-houses, hospital, court etc. It is crystal clear that, if compared to others, police officers have a real high-risk job. Not only the officers are killed; they are also assaulted and get contagious diseases. The bottom line is that they do not get harmed just physically. They also face emotional traumas and depressions. Thus, a police officer is expected to be combat-ready permanently (Mayhew, 2001).
The police officers in the United States are most commonly the victims of homicide. They get killed while performing "undercover work, making arrests, conducting drug raids, attending domestic disputes or pursuing speeding motorists" (Mayhew, 2001). Sometimes, the Police vehicles get crashed and this ultimately results in more officer deaths. A number of officers also commit suicide. They are also assaulted with different items ranging from fists to syringes or bottles. Those officers who are seriously assaulted officers either return to perform their jobs on alternate basis or are permanently render inoperative (Mayhew, 2001).
Another factor that makes policing a high-risk and dangerous job is the police officers' exposure to infectious organisms while crime investigation, search conduct, sampling or suspect arrest. For instance, if a police officer is bitten by a hepatitis B-infected person, he/she can be infected. The police officers and personnel who are most at risk are those who work in drug squads. Similarly, police who carry out body searches on lawbreakers or are on watch-house duty are also prone to health risks (Mayhew, 2001).
It is not to be forgotten that policemen are not superhuman but normal human beings. When they are exposed to hazards, painful events, prisoner terrorization, contradictory assignment burdens, and departmental investigations and work in remote country areas constantly, they feel stressed just like a normal individual. They are also faced with other work-related injuries such as hypertension, toxic chemicals, insecure buildings, explosions etc. A number of police officers are also challenged with substance abuse (alcohol abuse in particular) (Mayhew, 2001).
To cut a long story short, the technological advancements that are being used by the American police department have made it a truly efficient and effective department. However, this job is not as easy as it is appeared to be in movies and novels. The police personnel are faced with a number of professional health and safety risks on the job on a daily basis. As already…