In the last few decades technology and digital services have grown exponentially, becoming more automated, advanced and often accurate. Now, law enforcement agencies are continuously learning how to adapt their outdated technologies to fight crime in the cyber and physical world. To better provide public safety, agencies should focus their efforts in four main areas: manage data, secure investment, ensure mobile accessibility and remain transparent. With these trends in mind, the law enforcement community can begin understanding the best ways to use technology against criminals.
1) Manage Data
As cybercrime increases, law enforcement agencies continue to be a significant target for bad actors looking to claim the extremely high value data these organizations hold—data that is personal and could even be life altering. Within data security and management, there are three vital categories to consider.
- Protecting and storing sensitive data: The amount of cyber data held by law enforcement is unfathomable and keeping it secure is of utmost importance. With large amounts of surveillance such as body camera video and patrol car data, third-party tech companies must step in to provide support in storage capacity. Cloud solutions and centralization of data is making it easier for law enforcement to securely store, manage and access data versus external drives that can be stolen or broken.
- Digital evidence as a part of every case: All digital evidence from victims and suspects needs to be managed for future use in trials, but as the amount of evidence that needs to be stored grows, crime labs simply cannot keep up. To combat this, processes are being put into place that allow officers to collect the most important evidence from devices during the initial investigation and allowing victims and witnesses to keep them afterward. This way, crime labs will not become overwhelmed and law enforcement can build trust within an investigation.
- The relevancy of Artificial Intelligence: AI gives law enforcement the opportunity to work most efficiently by combing through data within a matter of seconds instead of a manual approach that could take weeks or months. With AI doing the harder work, analysts can then make imperative connections within a case much quicker.
2) Secure Investment
While it is obvious law enforcement must transition to more upgraded technology, new devices, software and security measures, these upgrades come with a hefty price tag. Not only do smaller law enforcement organizations have to compete for funding with larger state and local government agencies, but they must also attempt to build their case for funding allocation with data from outdated systems.
However, agencies can still use what they have in order to prove their services are worth the cost. For example, the Seattle Police Department used data from roughly 10,000 cases of mental health crisis to show the scope of support that is needed to create better programs for handling these unique situations.Other agencies are using Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions to mitigate storage, security and other data issues that are overwhelming legacy systems and the policing staff.
3) Ensure Mobile Accessibility
More funding and better data solutions will not fix the glaring issues of a lack of officer preparedness and willingness to learn new technologies. On the other hand, new processes and tech should help streamline their work such as mobile-first solutions. For example, officers who must still transition to using a smart phone on the job should find it easy as they likely already have a personal smart phone. Additionally, 5G is being widely built to align with law enforcement sectors. Various applications and software should be simple to access and use across any age or level of experience to allow officers to evaluate the more intimate details of a case while technology handles the raw data collection and analyses.
4) Remain Transparent
Transparency within policing has become an increasingly controversial topic, but data ensures factual support to garner trust between law enforcement agencies and the public. Some useful data is crime data, use-of-force data and mental and behavioral health crisis response data. Sharing these through PDFs or records management systems is simple, but new, collaborative data portals provide community members the opportunity to download and analyze data for themselves. There can be discrepancies in data collection, though, such as the use of body cameras and surveillance videos. These create grey areas when it comes to rights regarding digital information collection versus physical evidence.
The Future of Tech in Law Enforcement
The demand for quick and accurate results within law enforcement is rising much faster than the ability for agencies to replace old legacy systems and implement newer, more robust technologies. Organizations must continue to share their experiences to understand what is and is not working among the industry to ultimately improve not only the relationship between law enforcement and their communities, but also efficiency of public safety.
Read the full report by GovWhitePapers featuring real-world examples from Carahsoft’s vendors ADF Solutions, Magnet Forensics, Mark43 and Voyager Labs. For more information on the latest advancements in the Law Enforcement Sector, check out Carahsoft’s Federal, State and Local Law Enforcement Technology solutions.
 “6 Challenges Impacting Public Safety & How Agencies are Adjusting,” Mark43, https://mark43.com/resources/blog/6-challenges-impacting-public-safety-how-agencies-are-adjusting/
“Law Enforcement Technology Trends Report,” GovWhitePapers, https://static.carahsoft.com/concrete/files/8116/5956/0644/2022_Law_Enforcement_Technology_Trends_Report.pdf