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How Computers Changed Law Enforcement

Essay by   •  August 25, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,637 Words (7 Pages)  •  2,850 Views

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Computers have changed the way people communicate and work. In police departments and other Law Enforcement Agencies, computerized information systems have become an essential part of the war on crime. For example, the New York City Police Department has used CompStat, a computerized crime tracking system and it has been a huge success. Other police agencies around the nation have also adopted that included information and management system for their police work. Police now have computers at their desk or workstations so they can connect straight to the Internet and other data basis around the world. This gives them direct access to email, blogs, Facebook, and other forms of digital communication. Digital communication has is the primary way of communication in law enforcement around the world today. Computers and computer software are used in several different ways to help law enforcement fight crime. Now let's look how the computer we use for playing games, surfing the Internet, and doing spread sheets are used to fight crime.

With access unlimited information online, cops can use Internet resources to rapidly find out facts and information dealing with specific cases almost anywhere in the world. This could engage in researching exacting facts or even something as simple as looking up an address or someone's date of birth. In either case, police officers use computers to make their work more efficient which will hopefully allow them to solve more crimes. In addition, police officers can directly observe suspects online, which have given police officers the advantage of using social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Internet web pages have become more popular in the law enforcement circles today. They are used to distribute crime prevention information and other important communications with the community. Additionally, just having law enforcement monitoring Internet web sites sends a clear and loud message to the community that the law enforcement agency understands and is very involved in modern technology. Law enforcement computer evidence specialists have the know-how and information to generate Internet web pages, which only cost the departments a few dollars a month to maintain. A large number of Internet service providers will often provide free web space for the law enforcement community. The cost of law enforcement doing business on-line will no longer be an issue so they are already looking at how to use this and new technology to their advantage.

Many police departments are tapping into Facebook as a way to help solve crimes.

One local department gained national attention after solving a crime 24 hours after posting it on the site. "It is the modern day version of the post office wall with the wanted posters," Westbrook Police Department Lt. Mike Nugent said. Nugent said that he operates a Facebook page for his department and spends about three hours a week on it. He said that the department's profile has helped solve nearly a dozen cases. "Last May we had a brutal aggravated assault that was caught on surveillance video. We knew who the suspect was, but we hadn't been able to locate him. Within three hours of positing it on Facebook, we had information on where he was and arrested him with that information," Nugent said. Nugent posts information about the latest crime and trends on the page, along with the department's tip line and contact information. All of his posts go out to the department's 3,000 + fans. "On two occasions that I'm aware of, people learned that they were featured on the Facebook page and turned themselves in as a result," Nugent said. Auburn Police Department Deputy Chief Jason Moen started a Facebook page for the department in February 2009. The police were able to solve a vandalism case at the Hilton Garden Inn by posting surveillance video on the page. "We found that it's really enhanced our interaction with the community, because not only do our officers go out there every day and make a difference, but people can come into our house, so to speak, and interact with our staff," Moen said. He said that the page has helped Auburn police solve six crimes and secure leads to many others.

Police departments everywhere rely on computers as a big part of their record keeping. This saves a ton of space and physical labor but the most important part this allows different police departments to share their information. Police not only store records and reports in online databases, but they also use and hard drives to save several images, reports, videos, and other information they find necessary. Computers and hard drives make mass storage possible, and make possible massive online databases that can accurately ID suspects anywhere in the country.

Police departments can operate computers in their patrol cars. Computers allow for mobile police units to look up information,

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