Law enforcement has come a long way since the ‘30s when Dick Tracy, the tough and extremely intelligent police-detective comic strip, chased bad guys using his two-way wrist radio. At that time, people believed the wrist radio actually existed.
Now, with the advent of smartphones, the cloud, and a host of modern innovations like EFORCE Software, it seems law enforcement in the United States is not far from that reality. Technology now plays an expanding role in the everyday operations of the frontline police officer — from their squad car tools to software that keeps police records up-to-date and easily searchable.
Let’s dig deeper on the fascinating evolution of law enforcement, and how technology has become the driving force behind the change.
Then: The Early Days of American Law Enforcement
The birth of law enforcement in the country was similar to that of England, where it was considered a local responsibility. Established more than three centuries ago in Boston, law enforcement involved a system of night watch to guard cities against crime and disorder. There were also appointed sheriffs and elected constables, whose goal was to become involved right at the beginning of bad behavior.
Everything changed when the Industrial Revolution came, where the number of people in major cities surged substantially. This brought more crime and riots, as well as public health issues.
In the early 20th century, law enforcement and policing again changed with the coming of telephones. People were encouraged to call the police to report crimes and other issues; the police responded using two-way radios and patrol cars. These technological advances helped create law enforcement as we know it today.
Now: The Integration of Technology in American Law Enforcement
Now police around the country have embraced technology, using it to meet the shifting demands of police work. For instance, many are using jail management software, which allows them to improve the efficiency and operations of jails. Others use wearable technologies and biometrics to maximize the time police officers spend in the field.
Each innovation has radically altered the way law enforcement operates.
The then and now of American law enforcement, from its early roots to the present day, is truly fascinating. No doubt, the future will present some great opportunities for law enforcement leaders to deliver better policing services.