Technology in Law Enforcement. What about Web 2.0?

Technology in Law Enforcement?
I was having a conversation the other day with a newly appointed Chief of Police, Ray Douglas, from a small town close to Memphis. This newly sworn-in Chief was going through the process of determining what capabilities his staff had and what they lacked. During my conversation with Ray, I asked him if he had a Science and Technology Officer.
It’s becoming more and more important to have a police CTO, an individual tasked with the overall management of technology. The days of rank and file officers being able to keep up with “technology” are over. A new High Tech officer is here and it looks like we will all be better served as a result.
He immediately told me that he had a guy that was tasked with managing his servers and computers. I interrupted him and said that I was really more interested in whether or not he had someone that was tasked with helping to find and vet new hardware used in day to day policing.
The point is that Technology in Law Enforcement means many things today. New capabilities emerge everyday and need to be deployed in an appropriate manner. Computers, PDA’s, surveillance equipment and weapons are a few of the hardware items that require management. But at a rapidly increasing pace web-based applications are coming onto the scene to impact law enforcement activities.
Being able to understand these new web tools and apply them to support law enforcement activities requires a new type of individual. Web Professors will gain new importance in law enforcement in the coming days, weeks and months. Web Professors help new users of Web 2.0 applications to rapidly come up to speed. Soon departments will have to employee Web Professors to teach officers how Web 2.0 will be properly integrated into their standard operating procedure. Failure by departments to take this step will result in officers misusing these new tools in a way that may have a profoundly negative effect on the department.
Tell us what your department has in the way of an officer tasked with managing technology and the web.

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Christa M. Miller

Actually, I think it’s backwards, isn’t it? An administrative sgt. or lt. writes up an RFP and then various vendors bid on the necessary technology – be it RMS, CAD, ballistic vests, Tasers, etc.? That individual has to know basics about the technology, but it seems to me that only the departments with really tech-savvy administrators (and/or innovative nearby engineering schools) get to be part of development and deployment of strong new technology.

As for Web 2.0, a challenge I think a lot of PDs will face is whether it falls under IT, or PR. Those two positions will have to interface more and more to make a successful Web 2.0/social media run, to collaborate on writing policy and advising the chief on how to handle disciplinary issues, etc. In other words, they will have to get away (somewhat) from chain of command issues and become, well, more “social.”