Policing Using New Technologies

The law enforcers “police” have upon many obligations to uphold and to reinforce laws, and some rules rigidly/securely and justly. As crime continues, methods to prevent crime and strategies to minimize incidents involving crime also advance, Such as new technologies to help aid police officials. Some of these technologies include “Tasers”, “Capsicum Spray”, “CCTV”, and “DNA Profiling”. These are a few of the many technologies that are in use to help minimize and prevent crime occurring.

Crime Prevention refers to the different methods associated with deterring an individual to not commit a crime. Strategies and technologies change and develop which results in a more positive outcome such as crime levels depleting in communities and decreased levels to re-offenders committing again. The positives of using Tasers, and Capsicum spray and other technologies is to be effective in detaining to perpetrator without the use of lethal force such as a hand gun, addition to other technologies to aid the police to be effective with the most minimal amount of force.

Introduction of new laws and successes observed in the use of Tasers in the Australian special police force and other countries such as Canada allowed for Australian Police to get a complete upgrade to handheld weapons for self-defense. Tasers are handheld weapon that when shot send and electrical current which result in uncontrollable muscle contractions, which ceases to allow any voluntary movement.

It is used by police officials as a means to detain the individual, it is commonly used as the fourth response from police for the violent individual and to calm violent situations, when fired it administers a 50, 000 volt charge into a person rendering them for a period of time. Over time and use it has been found that Tasers have both adverse and positive affects much the same as guns but far less dangerous.

Advantages of the police to be able to use Tasers are a less lethal option of force that a Police officer can use in a dangerous situation like a hostage situation or a fight, they were found to be more effective then guns which are incorporated the by Queensland police to diffuse dangerous situations such as drug and alcohol fuelled fights as they are usually unaware of what they are doing in most situations. Recent Tasers have been fitted with cameras which are activated when the trigger is fired to be used as evidence.

They were also found to be cheaper to maintain, “These weapons save lives. We never said they were toys” (Scipione. A. , 2012). Adverse effects were also observed with increased incidents of injuries and deaths due to their inappropriate use and the cases of abuses by police of firing them at unarmed civilians such as the Brazilian man that had been killed by the police who stunned the individual with a Taser. There is fear by some individuals from the public of being intimidated by police, with the view of being fired upon by them.

There have also been cases of the Tasers inefficiency such as the issue of flammability in specific areas including specific clothes catching on fire. (Facts about Tasers, Minister media statement, 2008) The large increase of the CCTV has brought about mainly for the protection of private property, and to help aid the police officials on the whereabouts of certain criminals. CCTV has become a must for many businesses and has therefore given the Police a huge helping hand in finding criminals as CCTV companies usually wok hand to hand with the Australian Police.

Overall the use of CCTV has been positive in both deterring and individual to commit a crime or to reoffend, and as it has also played a vital role in the use as evidence in court cases something that has remained essential in proving almost exact evidence in many crimes, it also shows crimes committed when the shop or business owner isn’t present so they can be used for protection based purposes. CCTV can also be used as a deterrent for crimes. CCTV also has disadvantages which limit its capability to justify a verdict, some examples include lack of distance and radius coverage, the image is not always clear and distinct.

Don’t necessarily always operate as it requires constant monitoring. The issue of privacy has arisen from the use of CCTV as they have been linked to invasion of privacy, they have also been linked to some country becoming Police states much like an Orwellian novel due to the amount of CCTV cameras used in specific areas. Such as voyeurism occurring in many cases 1 in 10 women were targeted. (BBC CCTV cameras 2006, Keeping CCTV In Bounds 2013) Police use other methods of accumulating evidence and or information.

This recently new technology DNA Profiling has been integrated for police use to help justify cases. DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) is a molecule that contains and individual’s genetic information. DNA is located in the nucleus of every cell all through the human body. The positives of DNA Profiling is that it can be very accurate means of obtaining a suspects DNA to either identify a body that has been found, or to play a crucial role in comparing the suspects DNA to determine whether the individual was involved in the crime through the DNA that may have been left behind and used as evidence.

There are several negative aspects of DNA Profiling; it poses ethical views on whether the police should keep such samples of individuals who may have been accused of a crime. The evidence obtained isn’t necessarily accurate as the evidence may have been tampered with, and like any other method/technique used by forensic scientists it is very likely to be exposed to human error. (DNA Profiling, INTERPOL, 2009) Capsicum Spray (OC Spray) is an inflammatory agent that is produced from red Cayenne peppers. It is a widely used method by police if the person resists and refuses arrest.

Once an individual is sprayed by capsicum spray the person will have a moment of uncontrollable, coughing and may have some breathing difficulties. Although capsicum spray may be perceived as brute force it, is a much safer means then using a Taser or in fact a hand gun. These effects last between 10-15 minutes allowing the perpetrator to be detained and arrested. The advantages of using Capsicum spray is not injure the individual but to use as little force as possible while being effective in doing so.

Evidence shows that there has been less force used by the police, “as Edwards, Granfield and Onnen(1997) found a substantial decrease in use-of-force complaints following the introduction of OC spray” (Brown. J. , 2005, p. 7). Some disadvantages of capsicum spray include some major concerns about health issues due to the fact it can cause serious illness, and long term and short. There have been cases especially in asthmatics were the victim has been killed due to the restriction of the airways, due to the swelling.

And according to statistics “17 per cent experienced severe effects and needed more aftercare” (Brown. J. , 2005 p. 8). Technologies (Tasers, CCTV Cameras, DNA Profiling, and Capsicum Spray), are continually going to be criticized by the media whether it be positive or negative. The media has a strong influence on people such as their view Tasers, they contradict Tasers as being harmful because 1 person may have been killed but it doesn’t mention how many it has saved, instead of the police officer using a gun.

CCTV Cameras have also been on current debate as to whether they should be removed in some areas due to privacy issues. Capsicum Spray is also somewhat criticized due the life threatening effects it has on asthmatics. In researching the upgrade and use of new technological techniques and tools by the Australian Police and the issues that have arisen with them. In my opinion I think that the advantages has outweighed the adverse effects as they are only the small percentage of cases where abuse has been documented.

The new technologies introduced has saved more lives as hostile situations can be dealt with without deadly force new technology has allowed for databases of criminals to have been recorded and updated faster than ever insuring that criminals and suspects can be found faster and that proof can be used. The deadly cases of people being injured or even killed to the case of unfortunate police brutality are just a minority of cases and very rarely happen or they don’t happen at all, a significant portion more people are saved then abused with the introduction of new equipment’s.

A bigger issue that needs to be addressed is the training of Police and what behavior is acceptable and unacceptable as it is the Police attitude towards work and his experience which gets in the way with work, younger inexperienced Police officers are usually the ones causing the problems as they panic in situations that they have never been in before, it was their actions and behavior that has caused the problem not the Tasers or capsicum spray.

Technologies such as these are caught in the cross fire in debates because people blame the Taser when in fact it is a safe self-defense weapon to use, much goes the same with capsicum spray. The invasion of privacy and liberty is also another bigger issue that needs to be addressed, overall the CCTV cameras has helped solve so many crimes such as drunken brawls and robbery cases than any other form of Police equipment as it gathers an accurate database and picture of what happens in its surroundings.

Smaller issues such as their use for voyeurism and invasion of someone privacy are big statements in a democratic world where liberty and freedom, and privacy are the building blocks of democracy. Instead of targeting the CCTV which is used by the Police and business owners to protect their jobs issues such as who gets them and who is allowed to have them should be dealt with first, in right only Police should be able to use them in this way inappropriate things can’t be done with the CCTV footage.

References/Bibliography

  • The Australian. (20 November, 2008) NSW Ombudsman call for freeze on Taser guns. Date retrieved 6/05/2013. From http://www.ratical.org/ratville/CAH/PVSisBadIdea.html