The middle of the decade of the 1980's was witness to the creation of the Technology Assessment Program Information Center and the Technology Program Advisory Agency. Their functions were as follows:
Technology Assessment Program Information Center: Picked up laboratories for testing equipment, supervised the testing process, published reports concerning the results that the lab released after testing.
Technology Program Advisory Agency: This was a large advisory body of senior local and federal law enforcement officials which are the predecessors to that which exists today
Important in the advancement of police protection was the creation and application in use of pepper spray.
VI. The Role of the National Institute for Justice in the Development of Law Enforcement technology:
The National Institute of Justice issued a "mandate in its capacity as the criminal research and development arms of the U.S. Department of Justice was to improve and strengthen the nations' system of justice with primary emphasis on local and state agencies."
There were however, according to the National Institute for Justice, obstacles blocking progress in the technological developments and implementation process in law enforcement agencies. The Institute used the word "fragmentation" to explain the biggest obstacle that has been observed and is demonstrated by the following statistics:
Law Enforcement Agency locations in the U.S. - 17,000
Number of officers in the U.S. - 570,000
Those obtaining 24 or fewer employees - 90%
Percentage of crime handled by local officers - 95%.
Fragmentation" causes many problems in including the fact that "most police departments have small budgets and make small buys of equipment." Added to that fact is that nearly all budgets of local agencies are spent on the personnel and have very little if any left over for the purchase of equipment.
The following is a listing of more obstacles:
The acquisition of equipment is usually on a "department-by-department basis" and without utilizing pool purchasing there is practically no way to assure integration on all levels and at the same rate as well as the lack of compatibility in systems with no pre-planned system in place. According to the Institute's 1998 report: " the inability of several adjoining police departments to communicate because of incompatible radio equipment and frequencies is commonplace.
Another factor that demonstrates "fragmentation' is the lack of staffing of an expert for evaluating technologies as well as the lack of defined standards for the equipment and technology of the law enforcement realm. According to the NIJ's 1998 report:
The police, on their own, have developed no national organization for this purpose. Criminal justice has no national regulatory agency. Crime laboratories are not required to undergo accreditation.
The whole issue of liability is a sobering issue... you can't underscore the importance of liability to any manufacturer of these products" according to Dr. Eric Wenaas the President and CEO of JAYCOR that is a leader in the field of manufacturing of police protection and technology products. Some examples of what is termed "liability concerns" listed in the National Institute for Justice 1988 report are as follows:
Pepper Spray: questions of the lethal aspects of pepper spray have given rise to lawsuits.
Technologies for detection of weapon possession have been the basis for lawsuits.
The "Big-Brother" concerns have effected the implementation of the Global Position System.
Also listed in the report are "impediments to marketing" as well as "impediments to product standard and testing" and "Legislative and judicial awareness."
VI. New and Emerging Developments in Technology:
The new technologies that are emerging through creations designed to guard the lives of police officers while in the line of duty are a diverse collection. The National Law Enforcement Officer's Memorial Fund has joined with Police One in a strategic alignment designed to address issues in relation to the safety of police officers.
The National Institute of Justice, division of Body Armor Standards and Testing, reports that the safety of the body armor has been assessed and that due to no existing acceptable standards created a new set of standards in relation to body armor for police officers. The testing of the body armor in defining the attributes and minimum performance criteria as well as seeking input from the industry, public safety and laboratory representatives was part of the NIJ effort in promulgating the "voluntary performance standards." Body armor has been designed that is bulletproof as well as stab-proof.
In a report published and written by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center/National Institute of Justice in 1998 entitled, Selection and Application Guide to Police Body Armor, it was stated that: The Office of Law Enforcement Standard (OLES) was established as a matrix management organization in 1971 through a Memorandum of Understanding between the Departments of Justice and Commerce for the purpose of application of science to technology to examine the needs of the law enforcement in relation to developing minimum performance standards. The areas, which were researched, were:
Clothing, communication systems vehicles, weapons, and analytical techniques and standard reference materials used by the forensic science community, emergency equipment, investigative aids, protective equipment, and security systems.
In a report entitled "Test Protocol for Comparative Evaluation of Protective Law Enforcement and Correction Applications it was stated that the purpose of the test was in the comparing of performance of protective gloves used by the officers. This is one example of the growing use of all types and manners of protection for police officers. The concerns of safety in this day and age are almost incomprehensible in the scope of the dangers that are faced by police officers while on duty.
Another innovation in police equipment is that named "TACNET." "TACNET" is "an in-vehicle command and control system designed to improve public safety, officer safety, officer efficiency and interoperability while dramatically reducing police car interior clutter." According to the report the implementations include "hands-free" technology through use of voice technology. (Visteon Corporation is described as a "leading full-service supplier that delivers consumer-driven technology solutions)
According to a report from Chicago, the police officers don't have to return to the station every time they need to check out mug shots in investigations. The mug shots, in a number exceeding five- million is now accessible through a data terminal that is wireless and portable which the officers carry with them. The units provide the officers a direct connection to I-CLEAR a "computerized data warehouse" that the officers can access to search for suspects by nickname, tattoo or country of origin as well as by vehicle identification information. A grant award in the sum of $9 million was provided by the Department of Homeland Security in the initiative. According to Ron Huberman, the Executive Director for Chicago's Office of Emergency Management and Communications said, " the difference between the outdated computers already in squad cars and the new ones to be installed over the next year are like night and day."
In another report from Pennsylvania, it was reported that Allentown, Virginia police are receiving almost $1 million form the federal government for a technology updates for the purchase of about 60 laptop computers.
A new technology that is being sponsored by the Idaho National Engineering and Environment Laboratory (INEEL) is in the development of an "improved weapons detection portal which employs fluxgate magnetometers" the magnetometers are for detecting anomalies in the magnetic field of the earth that is created by magnetic material contained in objects which individuals carry, such as guns or knives. The ferrous materials in the weapons are magnetic. These weapons will greatly affect the ability of the officers in their own safety in the ability to know whether or not a suspect is armed.
Claimed to be of great value and providing great impact on officer safety is the "in-car-camera" according to a report by Lonnie J. Westphal, retired Chief of Police in Colorado State. The report reveals that a study was performed to measure the impact of having on-board cameras. Used to measure the impact that the cameras had on officer safety were the following critical factors:
Professionalism and Performance
Complaints concerning police practice
The methodology used in the study was through surveys distributed to the community. Findings of the study were that the cameras had a great impact on both officer safety and public opinion of the officers.
Another implementation that is positive for the safety of police officers is satellite technology. Other technologies include the following, which are being explored for development by the NLEC:
passive millimeter wave technology: allows remote detection of metallic and nonmetallic weapons, drugs and other contraband concealed under multiple layers of clothes for up to 12 feet.
An electromagnetic technology in which a pulse is emitted at an individual and the pulse reflects back differently from objects of different physical composition.
X-ray imaging systems: less than one second of direction of this device…