Technological advancements have led to new products which police are using all over the country to fight crime. Police television shows have introduced many of us to cool new gadgets but while the TV shows are make believe, the real world also offers many new and interesting bits of information. Here's just a few of them:
The Robotic Camera: When its too dangerous to have a police officer go check out a scene, the police can just send in a remote control car with a camera that can be used to check out what is happening. In the old days the police would send in a police dog, but that could cause the dog to be killed. The robotic camera can be used outside, such as to be sent underneath a vehicle to see if a bomb has been placed underneath. Or inside such as when the police want to make sure that nobody is waiting for them inside a house when they try to serve a search warrant. The robotic cameras cost about $9,000 and their use is spreading.
Gunshot Detectors: The Nassau County Police Department in New York is using a system which tells them where shots have been fired. This is especially useful in high crime neighborhoods where by the time police arrive at the scene of a report of "shots fired" the shooter is often long gone and the police have to conduct a difficult and lengthy investigation to find out where the shots were fired. With this system police can place sensors in a given neighborhood and when shots are fired it will pinpoint exactly where the shots came from. The service costs between $40,000 to $60,000 a year per square mile and is used in only a limited number of places.
Tablets: The days of officers filling out paperwork and writing down statements are going away. An IPad allows an officer to do almost anything they used to do sitting at their desk on a little tablet computer which they could use almost anywhere. Tablet computers, such as the IPad, are being used all over the country and one can expect that their use by police officers will continue to grow.
Flying Police Drones: We are all aware of the use of unmanned drones by the U.S. Military to carry out strikes against terrorists in the Middle East. Now drones are being used by police departments to fly over high crime neighborhoods to provide an "eye in the sky" for local police departments. An unmanned drone is simply a remote control aerial device equipped with a camera which allows police to look at what is happening overhead with little, or no danger, to police officers. They run on regular gasoline and can hover overhead like a helicopter. They can cost $250,000 and are usually operated by licensed pilots. They cannot be used during bad weather and are the subject of growing criticism by civil rights advocates who fear that the expanding use of flying police drones could have serious privacy implications.
GPS Pursuit Darts: We have all seen movies and television shows which depict exciting police chases which can be violent and deadly. In the real world, police chases can often lead to death and serious injury to innocent civilians. Now this new device eliminates the need to engage in a high speed pursuit of a vehicle. A device, attached to a police car, can now shoot, with compressed air, a dart which will stick to the vehicle which is escaping. This dart is usually shot when the chase first starts. Once it attaches to the vehicle, the police can discontinue the chase and the vehicle can be monitored from a safe distance as its movement is being monitored from a computer. This device is relatively new and its effectiveness is still being evaluated. In addition, the legality of the use of GPS devices is still being hashed out by the courts. We recently reported about a United States Supreme Court decision which ruled that the police must obtain a warrant before placing a GPS tracking device on a vehicle.
These are just a few of the devices which are changing the way police are doing their job. Some of the devices being used are devices that all of us are using, like tablet computers, while others are devices that are being used by the U.S. Military, like flying drones.
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