The first and foremost example of information and communication technology (ICT) one is likely to encounter in law enforcement is the computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system that allows handling calls on incoming emergencies and assigning tasks to patrol officers (Fleischer, 2021). Other examples of ICT are databases, such as the National DNA Index System (NDIS) used to identify criminals (Ram et al., 2018). Speaking of DNA, it is also possible that, in the future, law enforcement will also use ICT to cross-reference DNA samples from the crime scene not only with NDIS but with multiple private and open-access databases (Ram et al., 2018). As of now, though, the feasibility of this approach raises questions, and it has not become a common practice yet.
The use of databases can also involve inter-departmental cooperation, although it is not necessarily smooth in every situation. FBI runs most of the American law enforcement databases, such as the National Crime Information Center or the Law Enforcement National Data Exchange, making such cooperation almost inevitable. At the center of communication in and between the law enforcement agencies lies efficiency (at least ideally) rather than identity sharing (Fleischer, 2021). That being said, one can still say that the ICTs promote some sort of shared identity, although it does not necessarily overshadow departmental pride.
The main concern with the use of ICTs in law enforcement is undoubtedly cybersecurity. Data handled in law enforcement is particularly sensitive and can cause great harm if it ends in the wrong hands. The issue is particularly crucial since the standard approach focusing on restricting data access has proven insufficient, which means passive protection is not enough, and it is necessary to monitor behaviors to identify potential malicious actors (Bradley, 2019). In short, cybersecurity is an acute issue in ICTs, including those used in law enforcement, and requires constant vigilance.
As a very goal-oriented field with a long history, law enforcement chooses particular technologies precisely because they are best suited for the situation. For example, CAD works best for distributing assignments because the combination of a dispatcher and the dynamically updated computerized positioning data suits the task (Fleischer, 2021). Similarly, hand-held radios work best for officer-dispatcher communication due to being small, portable, and reliable (Fleischer, 2021). Finally, digitalized databases have been used for accruing information on the national scale for decades precisely because they are efficient and comfortable to operate (Ram et al., 2018). Of course, the decision on which database to use depends on the data available – there is no reason to use NDIS if there is no DNA evidence.
Bradley, T. (2019). The standard cybersecurity model is fundamentally broken. Forbes.
Fleischer, C. (2021). History of police communication. City of Irving.
Ram, N., Guerrini, C. J., & MCGuire A. L. (2018). Genealogy databases and the future of criminal investigation. Science, 360(6393), 1078-1079.