As an integral part of scientific and technological progress, modern technology plays an increasingly important role in the life of society. Technologies occupy the rightful place in all important spheres of public life and governance. Certainly, in fulfilling its most important functions such as maintaining law and order, the government seeks to use scientific and technological developments. Modern information technologies are very effective means used by law enforcement agencies to investigate and reduce crime rates. Despite particular flaws that are associated with ethics and privacy, they have changed the criminal justice system positively by providing new opportunities.
The Concept and Significance of Technologies in Criminalistics
The success of any law enforcement investigation largely depends on the degree of ensuring its compatibility with the long-term accumulation and systemization of information about crimes committed in the past, persons involved in them, means and methods of their commission, various evidence, and objects related to criminal events. Technologies contribute to the improvement of the abilities and skills of the investigator to use such information in their work with the aim to identify and search for interesting phenomena that can serve as evidence.
This information is usually contained in specific file cabinets, lists, collections, computer memory, and other recording systems. Such specific reference systems containing forensic data used for the detection, investigation, and prevention of crime are a kind of database called forensic accounts. A scientifically developed accounting system formed an effective method of criminalistics registration. It helps to speed up the search of criminal records and other objects carrying forensically relevant information that is used for crime investigation (Cooney, 2012).
According to the destination, the automated information system (AIS) used for the collection and processing of accounting data and statistics, the operational systems for investigative practices, as well as the criminal and administrative ones for expert work can be identified. Automated data processing and information retrieval systems, workstations, and an automated control system are also used in law enforcement (Cooney, 2012).
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Advantages of Technologies
Positive aspects of the implementation of technologies in law enforcement include qualitative empowerment of the analysis of the rule of law, protection of rights and interests of citizens by expanding the range of accounting indicators and the systematization and generalization of the accumulated information. Technologies increase the reliability of the latter through automated mapping and monitoring of similar data from different sources. In addition, they contribute to the simplification of the existing case management system, mainly by streamlining the workflow. Moreover, modern technologies ensure the provision of decision support in the key areas of prosecution.
It consists of implementing a uniform methodology for automated collection, recording, storage, and integrated multi-purpose information processing which is required to handle all types of functional tasks. It helps to minimize routine unproductive labor and improve the awareness of workers. Moreover, the use of technologies provides a significant reduction of time necessary for data processing and ensures the high efficiency of the required information. Law enforcement officers receive an opportunity to find offenders easily and to increase the protection of citizens. It is possible to test DNA that can be used as evidence. Crime trackers identify crime-ridden districts and are used for deciding in which areas law enforcement officers should patrol. However, many other technologies are also greatly appreciated by law enforcement officers (Cooney, 2012).
Flaws of Using Technologies in Law Enforcement
Negative aspects of using technologies in law enforcement are associated with ethical and privacy considerations. Although such methods are aimed to protect citizens, they turn into a public safety issue. Tapping into a cellular device without a search warrant is considered to be a crime against people’s freedoms. Not long ago, there was a controversy about robot drones that were created for keeping suspected persons under surveillance and protecting from terrorists. However, there was a concern about the possibility of killing innocent men. The DNA collection method is connected with the violation of the Fourth Amendment. In addition, although biometric systems have a great potential of collecting and aggregating information about individuals, they cause great privacy concerns too (Cooney, 2012).
Changes in Law Enforcement
Modern society is characterized by the proliferation of information technology, including information systems and corporate information that perform a majority of managerial, operational, and strategic functions of large organizations, businesses, and institutions. At the same time, in governmental bodies, particularly law enforcement agencies, they have their own specifics of use. The system should be aimed at providing support of the following functions: the automation of receiving calls from citizens, quick access to unique databases of reports from organizations serving the public (hospitals, trauma centers, and others), and the availability of information necessary to assess the status and priority of the application of response forces. Forecasting the development of the operational environment is also an important function of the information system.
In addition, technologies are used for monitoring mobile services, assessing actions of law enforcement officers, making recommendations on their further steps, and monitoring the response time and the discipline of orders execution. Technologies gave a possibility of logging all actions of operators and records of negotiations into a single database with restricted access, evaluating the response time of system users, ensuring the interoperability of structural divisions of internal affairs, compiling statistical reports, providing background information to take preventive measures in relation to false calls, and freeing criminal justice managers from routine work.
At the tactical level, different methods of reporting that assess current activities and make needed adjustments are automatically created. At the strategic level, the criminal justice manager receives significant help in the processing of incoming information and preparation of decisions by decision-support or intelligent systems (Cooney, 2012).
The introduction of technologies to practices of law enforcement has significantly changed the way in which police officers perform their jobs. “From the introduction of the automobile to the use of computers in those automobiles, police practices have kept pace with the introduction of new technologies” (Cooney, 2012). A wide range of technologies is used in support of the system of justice. They include computers, telephony, automobiles, database management software, and weapons. The development of transportation technologies and communications increased the reaction capability of the police. Cellular technologies and computers increased the ability of information sharing, data processing, and communications.
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Forensic registration has a long history of formation and development of its surveys. For a long time, it has been called criminal registration, since it was based on records of persons, who were prosecuted. Since the range of objects under investigation (missing persons, corpses, subjects of criminal assault, objects with traces of a crime, or ways and means of committing crimes) has expanded, forensic tools and methods for the preparation of such information have become more sophisticated. They are improving mainly due to the introduction of information technologies (Cooney, 2012).
The information technologies' support of law enforcement is based on the collection, storage, processing, and transfer of forensic data. Technologies are generally used to process criminal information, its management, automation of office work, decision-making, and the application of expert systems. However, certain disadvantages of using modern technologies in law enforcement are mainly associated with concerns about individuals’ privacy and moral issues. Nevertheless, estimating positive and negative aspects of technologies in law enforcement, it is important to understand that they have provided many opportunities for the protection of the lives and freedoms of citizens.