Running Head: USING TECHNOLOGY BY LAW ENFORCEMENT 1 Using Video Surveillance Technology by Law Enforcement Name: Course: Instructor: Institution: Date:
USING TECHNOLOGY IN LAW ENFORCEMENT 2 Using Video Surveillance Technology by Law Enforcement Over the last decade, technology has been improved at an extraordinary rate reaching anadvanced level. Virtually all departments in different countries utilize one or two concepts oftechnology. Among the societal aspects is security, which calls for an urgent and appropriateaction. Security is one major challenge in many nations, especially the developed ones that arestill looking up to exploring other sectors with an aim of maintaining their current level.Technological development is evident in many areas, with different people having access to theknowledge. Research shows that currently, the most threatening and troublesome thugs haveadvanced knowledge in technology (Ratcliffe, 2006). The same is true with other criminals likedrug barons. Other individuals who have advanced and improved the application oftechnological knowledge are serial killers in different states and nations. Others are terroristswho have also devised a means of tracking their enemies. Research reveals that the formerWestern enemy, the late Osama Bin Laden had a lot of technological knowhow and could easilylocate his enemies and bring them down at his own time. If it were not for his smartness intechnology, reaching the World Trade Center would have remained a dream (Dempsey, 2010).Amidst the well-trained US security personnel, he managed to bring down a big part of the greatNew York City down leaving many people dead and injured. For this reason, securityorganizations and personnel have taken a step to come up with appropriate and relevant ways ofcurbing criminal activities and ensuring that state laws or constitutions are followed to the latter.This essay will look into one of the mostly used technology by most law enforcement personnelor police officers, Video surveillance (Ratcliffe, 2006). Video surveillance is mainly done usingthe device commonly known as CCTV (Closed Circuit Television).
USING TECHNOLOGY IN LAW ENFORCEMENT 3 CCTVs have become common device or necessity in public places such as city or townstreets where pedestrians walk, public or national parks, parking areas, hotels and cafeterias,public transport areas such as airports, stadiums, movie theatres, learning institutions and big orexecutive offices. CCTV is a system whereby a given number of video cameras are placedstrategically and connected in a closed loop or circuit. Current CCTV installations have cameras that are connected to control rooms whereindividual operators watch televisions keeping the track of all the processes that take placewithin the boundary of the location or area being surveyed. Many of the CCTVs are equippedwith recording facilities or selected images within the focus. The devices are also equipped withimage multiplex recording system, whereby camera-to-camera switching of images is possibleenabling one tape to see or read every camera in a rotating style. The devices also have systemswhereby digital technology is employed in recording the images from the several cameras once.An operator has the ability to tilt, pan, as well as, zoom many of the cameras. With theadvancement and development in technology, the cameras characterized with full range ofcontrol and movement, are preferred in most cases. They enhance the quality of the imageviewed from a given point (Dempsey & Forst, 2011). In law enforcement agencies, CCTV system of monitoring or investigating criminalactivities is categorized into two major systems known as active and passive systems. In activesystems, an individual is employed to monitor series of displays on the screen in real time. Inactive systems, CCTVs are placed in public arenas with no one viewing, and the video isreplayed in case a criminal activity occurrence within the area under supervision. Active systemsis usually used in areas such as supermarkets where monitoring of people’s movements and
USING TECHNOLOGY IN LAW ENFORCEMENT 4actions is necessary to curb theft (Ratcliffe, 2006). Usually the systems are hybrid recordingalmost all images. The operator scans all the images from one monitor to the other, concentratingon important or required images and ignoring others. With the increased use of CCTVs, manypublic order crimes come to the notice of police officers who react by taking the appropriateconstitutional measures. How CCTVs are used in Law Enforcement Practices CCTV systems are not physical barriers. They never limit access to some areas,make an individual difficult to rob or assault, or make it difficult to steal an object. This,however, does not imply that the device is not a definite example of situational crime preventiontechniques. CCTVs may have several functions, but the core function is triggering perceptualmechanism any potential offender. The device seeks the perception of the offender and he or sherealizes that he/she will be caught in case he/she misbehaves or commits a crime. In short, thedevice seeks to increase the risk of capture. The technique assumes that the offender is behavingin a rational manner, thus, de-motivating any other potential offender. Two elements must bepresent to ensure that the crime prevention process using CCTV succeeds. First, the offendermust be aware that there is a camera within his/her physical location. Secondly, the offendermust have a belief that the placed CCTV cameras present many risks of capture negating therewards of an intended crime (Ratcliffe, 2006). Elaborating on the first element, a CCTV is stemin a town center where criminal activities have become regular and common among the towndwellers. Crime prevention using the device will work accordingly if the offenders are aware thattheir steps and activities within the town are being watched somewhere.
USING TECHNOLOGY IN LAW ENFORCEMENT 5 Research evidence shows that even though implementers try their best to install thesystems, place a signage, encourage publicity campaigns, there is still a high chance that not theentire population within the place being monitored will have awareness of the cameras. Researchdone in the City of Glasgow Scotland confirmed this after the installation of 32 cameras withinthe city center and city dwellers interviewed. It was found that only 41% of those interviewedwere aware of the cameras in town. According to the second mechanism, CCTVs have a greaterpotential of reducing crime (Dempsey & Forst, 2011). The cameras may assist in detecting andarresting offenders. The process will require prompt response from police officers to anysignificant incidents that might have been pinpointed by the camera operators. This system has ashortcoming in that incarcerated offenders must be prevented from committing other crimes.Offenders may also learn types of incidences that will call for police response as well as thespeed of the response. From this, it is arguably true that availability of local resources is animportant factor for the success of this crime mechanism control system (Ratcliffe, 2006).Another important factor to consider when using this device is that its ability to curb or reducecrime level is usually less convincing. It is arguably less effective way of reducing crime rateswithin a given area. For instance, the role of the cameras is identifying the criminals, and notpunishing them. Due to this, most areas where the CCTVs are available have been supplied byfulltime police surveillance. In case of any incidence reported by the camera operators, the policeofficers ensure they respond as fast as they can to capture the offender and follow the legalprocedure of dealing with them. With this, criminal rates have reduced in most areas where theCCTV cameras have been used. The first element suggested that there must be awareness in theoffenders their steps are monitored by somebody somewhere (Ratcliffe, 2006). The operators andlaw enforcement agencies have taken advantage of this, and some have started using fake
USING TECHNOLOGY IN LAW ENFORCEMENT 6CCTVs to reduce cost and crime at the same time. This has succeeded in many areas since thereis always a very low possibility that the individual offenders will detect or sense that the CCTVused is faked or not. Risking is also not a good option for them. In this case, some criminals willcommit their unlawful activities but police officers will catch some. The officers will state thatthe CCTV had detected the individual criminal, which may be fake. From this, other offenderswill be cautioned and avoid criminal activities. Virtually all of them will believe that the CCTVis operational and effective. CCTVs have reduced criminal rates through this principle in severalbig cities. No criminal will be happy or confident to commit a crime when others are watchingand he is aware of this. Only those who do not know that they are being watched will commit thecrimes (Reichart, 2001). Another factor being considered by criminal investigation agencies is the effectiveness ofthe technology is the nature or type of crime being tackled or reduced. CCTV systems may havethe ability of reducing burglary in certain areas but with some crimes, it becomes a challenge tocurb successfully the practice. Some crimes like drug dealing may be very hard to control or stopusing CCTV cameras (Ratcliffe, 2006). At one point, drug barons may meet to discuss theprocess of carrying out their transactions; at another point, the barons may meet to carry out theirbusiness. First, it becomes difficult for the cameras to identify the topic of discussion betweentwo individuals at a distance. They may plan their activities and carry them out at anotherlocation with no cameras or with cameras as well. Their actions will be difficult to identify.However, with the increased security and technical personnel training, it has become easy to theviewers or CCTV operators to reduce criminal rate by observing the behaviors of people whoseimages are captured by the cameras. Psychological observation of an individual is necessary toindentify or suspect a criminal.
USING TECHNOLOGY IN LAW ENFORCEMENT 7 Despite certain disadvantages, the device has considerably reduced criminal rates to thelowest level possible. Many large cities such as New York, Washington DC, Toronto, London,and Johannesburg are currently under CCTV surveillance and criminal rates have greatly beenreduced. The areas were initially dangerous spots for crimes. CCTV also acts as a protectivemeasure watching over the people and protecting them over any incoming enemy that mightharm them. An example is derived from the US attention and fight against the terrorist groupsfrom the Middle East for instance, the Al Qaeda group that has proven to be a threat to theirpeace and development. CCTVs help in police investigation in several other ways. Various CCTVs can aid in theconviction of a captured offender. For instance, camera footage can help in identifying apotential witness or witnesses who may not volunteer and come to police. The cameras arealways compelling and convincing (Reichart, 2001). After the affirmation that the individualcaptured actually committed the stated crime, legal processes will take place and criminalactivities will undoubtedly reduce. In case of a prompt response by the police such that theoffender does not leave the crime site, the recoding of the incidence can assist the investigatorsin gaining conviction through guilty plea. Another point to note is that the potential or possibilityto assist in the investigations by police officers may indisputably drive away offenders fromcommitting the intended offences at that time since they will automatically run a big risk ofbeing captured. CCTVs are also used for management of places. The cameras are used for monitoringtraffic flows, demonstrations, and public meetings. These areas or activities may require policeother additional police resources (Reichart, 2001). In addition, to note is that assault andmistreatment of police officers by the public or criminals have been greatly reduced because of
USING TECHNOLOGY IN LAW ENFORCEMENT 8the application of CCTVs. The cameras have aided in knowing the situation in areas wheredemonstrations or wars have broken out. This way, the rate of assault and deaths of policeofficers in the hands of the public have been minimized to the lowest level possible. In additionto the above, CCTV cameras can be used in gathering intelligence and monitoring theirbehaviors of identified known offenders in public places, for instance, it can monitor themovements and behaviors of known shoplifters in public places. After the identification of acriminal or offenders, the cameras become a potential and reliable way of monitoring his/hermovements and activities in a less intrusive manner compared to deployment of plain clothpolice officers for investigation practices. After gathering the used by the offenders, the policeofficers can interdict in a more organized and planned manner to capture the offender. Outsidethe criminal or security departments, CCTVs can also be used in giving information to doctors inhospitals. An example is whereby a war victim is taken in for treatment. It may be difficult forthe doctors to identify the problems that the victim suffered during the war. Replaying the videotaken by the camera aids the doctors in viewing and knowing the patient problem, henceappropriate and relevant treatment process. Despite the above advantages, CCTVs also pose a great challenge to the public, ingeneral. First, its presence creates the fear of insecurity among the public. When people within agiven commercial center hear or are made aware of CCTV camera installation, will naturallysuspect the existence of thugs or thieves within the region. Another shortcoming is that it violatesindividual right to privacy. The cameras are placed in a manner that the operators have the abilityto see what everyone, within the focus, is doing, contrary to what is expressed in the constitutionguaranteeing all citizens right to privacy.
USING TECHNOLOGY IN LAW ENFORCEMENT 9 From the above descriptions, it is evidently true that CCTV technology has aided a lot inreducing criminal activities in many areas. The success of the technology is mainly based on theconcept and assumption that all people within a given region are aware of the CCTV presence.However, just like other devices, the cameras have disadvantages in their use as described above.
USING TECHNOLOGY IN LAW ENFORCEMENT 10 ReferencesDempsey, J. (2010). Introduction to Private Security. Boston, Massachusetts, MA: Cengage Learning. (Dempsey, 2010)Dempsey, J. & Forst, L. (2011). An introduction to Policing. Boston, Massachusetts, MA: Cengage Learning.Ratcliffe, J. (2006).Video Surveillance of Public Places. New York, NY: SAGE Publishers.Reichart, K. (2001).Use of information technology by Law Enforcement. New York, NY: Wiley and Sons.