Before patrol cars had two-way radios, North Carolina police officers in the 1930s had to phone headquarters to find out where their next assignments would be. Twenty-first century police officers use tools that might seem like science fiction if their 1930’s counterparts could see it. Taking advantage of technological advances in areas such as optics and software, today’s police train to fight crime productively and with fewer risks.
Crime Fighting in Total Darkness
Bullard, a manufacturer of protective systems, explains how some officers now train to fight crime by learning to use thermal imaging technology. Unlike regular night-vision goggles, thermal imagers work in total darkness. After learning to use a thermal imager, an officer can see people and objects in darkness because of the heat they emit. Thermal imagers work in all weather conditions and can also help trained law enforcement personnel during investigations and rescue operations.
Ordinary citizens can monitor some police communications using police scanner radios. Police departments around the country are beginning to hide their private communications from the public using new technology that encrypts their conversations. Encrypting communication gives police officers more security and privacy in their communications. NBC News reports the Nassau County, N.Y. police department is even upgrading its encrypted communications system to give it the ability to interface with neighboring law enforcement agencies.
Virtual Reality Training
"A virtual shoot-out took place Friday," notes Matt Joyce, staff writer for the Dallas Business Journal. Joyce describes a virtual reality police training session where officers wore helmets that let them to see a virtual reality environment in which a crime is occurring. Using this type of training, police can practice maneuvering in a realistic scenario, such as a bank robbery, and practice skills unique to that environment. Officers even meet in debriefing sessions after their VR training sessions to discuss their experiences.
Social Media Communication
USA Today reports that some police departments monitor Internet chat rooms and use social media sites such as Twitter. This practice helps them stay informed and connected with their communities. Some police officers even write blogs from their cars and upload them to social media sites. Fellow officers can then learn about breaking events happening on their beats by reading those blogs.
- High Point Police Department: History of High Point PD
- Rural Training.org: Thermal Imaging Camera Helps Police See in Dark
- USA Today: Latest Tech Gear Turns Police into Robocop
- Police Chief Magazine: The Future Is Here - Technology in Police Departments
- Bullard: Top 10 Uses for Thermal Imaging in Law Enforcement
- NBC News: Police Using Technology to Shield Internal Communications - Technology & Science - Tech and Gadgets
- PoliceOne: 'Next-generation 911' Gear Modernizes Police
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