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4 Unique Pieces of Technology in Criminal Justice

Updated on September 12, 2013
The latest technology makes it easier to catch criminals and keep records accurate
The latest technology makes it easier to catch criminals and keep records accurate

Catching criminals and ensuring that law enforcement stays one step ahead requires constant refinement of the systems in place to deal with particular scenarios, and one of the vital resources for advancing police techniques is new technology. In the recent past, technology that would have once seemed to jump right out of the future has become commonplace within the justice system.

For example, GPS tracking is used in many applications today (like ankle bracelets), and the tracking is so accurate that law enforcement can get an incredibly precise reading. But amazing accuracy regarding ankle bracelets isn't the extent of the advancements connected to the criminal justice system. Today's law enforcement teams are gaining access to exceptionally advanced technology for use in fighting crime.

1. Biometric technology

The range of application for biometric implants is extensive, and technologies like retina scans and biometric implants are important to law enforcement agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Biometric technology makes it possible to offer tight control regarding information held within the FBI's computer systems and also offers methods by which the accused can be tracked.

There are already other countries around the world utilizing this technology in great numbers. India, for example, implemented an extraordinarily widespread biometrically-enhanced census project. The government decided that it would create a type of universal identification card based upon a person's biometric data. Experts suggest that such universal technology is on the way in the United States and will provide law enforcement with superior tracking opportunities.

2. Wearable video cameras

A hot topic for discussion within and outside law enforcement is the arrival of small digital cameras worn by people like police officers while they're on duty. Just a few decades ago a video camera was large and cumbersome. Today's tiny powerhouses are durable, long lasting, and are starting to show up in the field all over the United States. There are conflicting opinions about whether the police should wear such technology, and while some officers have questioned their right to privacy, other officers have welcomed the technology.

Proponents of the wearable cameras say that individuals accused of crimes will have less opportunity to accuse police officers of wrongdoing during an arrest or other type of official interaction. Opponents of the cameras suggest that being forced to record every second of the day is an invasion of privacy and might even be constitutionally illegal. So far opinions on the subject seem divided, but it doesn't seem as though such valuable technology will be on the sidelines for long.

3. Thermal imaging

Commonly seen in movies that feature the military, thermal imaging is an advanced technology that small and local police departments have seen it increasingly proper to utilize. Such technology would have been incredibly expensive a decade ago, but being able to utilize thermal imaging within exceptionally small towns is no longer something that can't fit into the average budget of a small town. For example, a small police department in New Jersey currently uses thermal imaging to locate suspects hiding in the dark.

Those suspects would have likely been completely lost to the police for reasons of arrest, but today's thermal imaging cameras can locate people in the dark even if they're hiding behind walls. Not only does such technology allow law enforcement to find people who are hiding, but it also offers police officers and law enforcement on patrol the opportunity to see someone much sooner than if the only thing available was a pair of human eyes. Thermal imaging has also become an integral part of law enforcement's search for illegal marijuana farms.

4. Electrostatic Print Lifter

Finding a tiny, partial fingerprint has often led to arrest in difficult cases over the past several decades, but today's fingerprint technology is headed in a truly futuristic direction. Technology meant to allow a crime scene investigator the opportunity to lift a fingerprint off a surface like a carpet has arrived in the form of electrostatic print lifting devices.

The way in which this futuristic device works is that it charges a plastic film which may then draw dust particles onto the film in the shape of a fingerprint (or other type of print evidence). This technology is exceptionally new and delicate, but it's very likely that the devices used in electrostatic print lifting will become more widespread and increasingly accurate for print retrieval.

Technology is such an important topic to the justice system today that there is even an effort on behalf of the government to investigate and implement new technologies built specifically to fight crime. The National Institute of Justice devotes an entire division to technology called the Office of Science and Technology. This group's primary focuses are investigating the technology needs of the future and researching how to make those technology needs a reality.

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    • Starlinkindia profile image

      Star Link Communication Pvt Ltd 2 years ago from D-88/4, Okhla Phase I, Okhla Industrial Area, New Delhi, Delhi - 110020

      Biometrics plays an indispensable role in forensics and law enforcement. Face recognition technology is useful in averting terrorism. And yes, our national ID card program, Aadhaar, employs fingerprint recognition and iris recognition techniques. It is the world’s largest biometric identification programme!