High-Tech Policing

April 21, 2017 • Volume 27, Issue 15
Are new surveillance technologies effective and legal?
By Barbara Mantel

Introduction

Police officer Quinn Gatrell (Getty Images/George Frey)
Police officer Quinn Gatrell of West Valley City, Utah, makes a traffic stop on March 2, 2015, using a camera attached to his glasses. While police increasingly are using body cameras, basic procedures are hotly debated, such as when footage should be released to the public. (Getty Images/George Frey)

Controversial new technologies are transforming how police pursue suspects, monitor suspicious activity and seek to deter crime. Police departments are using computer algorithms to forecast where and when crimes might occur, sophisticated software to monitor social media posts, body cameras to record interactions with civilians, aerial drones to surveil neighborhoods and license-plate readers to find stolen cars and track criminal suspects. Law enforcement officials vigorously defend the technologies' overall effectiveness. But civil liberties groups say such tools raises troubling constitutional and privacy questions and that some police departments are using them without public notice, clear rules or proper oversight. While some cities have restricted the use of certain surveillance methods, others are under pressure to allow the public a greater say in formulating policies governing the technologies' use. Police maintain they are deploying high-tech equipment without violating individuals' rights and that opening its use to public review would play into the hands of criminals and terrorists.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Law Enforcement
May 22, 2017  Crime and Policing
Apr. 21, 2017  High-Tech Policing
Sep. 16, 2016  Jailing Debtors
Jun. 07, 2016  Crime and Police Conduct
Dec. 12, 2014  Police Tactics
Apr. 06, 2012  Police Misconduct
Oct. 14, 2011  Eyewitness Testimony
May 06, 2011  Business Ethics
Mar. 17, 2000  Policing the Police
Nov. 24, 1995  Police Corruption
Sep. 06, 1991  Police Brutality
Apr. 19, 1974  Police Innovation
Sep. 02, 1966  Police Reforms
Jan. 12, 1954  Federal Police Activity
Apr. 01, 1932  Proposed Expansions of Federal Police Activity
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Civil Rights and Civil Liberty Issues
Computers and the Internet
Consumer Behavior
Consumer Protection and Product Liability
Crime and Law Enforcement
Criminal Law Procedure and Due Process
Privacy