The Top 30 Law Enforcement Technology Stories of 2011

30 examples of technology radically augmenting how police fight crime.

by / December 21, 2011
Carbon Motors

Center Helps Law Enforcement Adjust to Social Media
As more law enforcement agencies turn to social media as a communication channel, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) has created a center to help agencies make the transition easier.

Kansas City Police Use Forensic Mapping to Investigate Accidents
The Kansas City (Kan.) Police Department and the state’s traffic management system have partnered to deploy a high-tech mapping device to help investigate traffic accidents.

Police Test App That Instantly Reveals Criminal Records
Police don’t have X-ray vision goggles yet, but a new iPhone app will give them the ability to instantly see what’s been previously reported to have happened inside a home and who with a criminal record has lived there.

National Public Safety Broadband Network Eyed — Again
Connecting the nation’s public safety agencies via an interoperable wireless system may seem like a fairly basic proposition, especially for a nation as technologically advanced as the U.S. But for more than a decade, a national system has proved unattainable — the effort has stalled time and again in Congress.

FBI Unveils Faster Fingerprint ID Technology
The Next Generation Identification (NGI) System adds several new biometric features and is expected to significantly reduce processing times compared to the existing Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS), launched by the FBI in 1999.

Real-Time Video Monitoring Technology Unveiled in Texas
For years video surveillance has been a useful tool for law enforcement officials. The Addison, Texas, Police Department might have taken its usage one step further, however, with the deployment of a new live video feed monitoring system.

911 Responders in Georgia Aided by Online Citizen Profiles
Two Georgia cities have implemented software that allows citizens to create online profiles that assist emergency responders when answering 911 calls.

Mobile Investigation App Helping Bring Criminals to Justice
A new mobile application is allowing law enforcement agencies to access public records and information in the field through tablet devices and smartphones. It’s also helping put criminals behind bars.

Comparing the Next Generation of Police Cars
For more than three decades, many law enforcement agencies have placed their trust in Ford’s full-size, rear-wheel-drive cruiser, creating an automotive icon synonymous with police presence and authority.

Shoe Print Databases Catch Up to CSI Fiction
Most crimes have one thing in common — the perpetrator walked or ran near the crime scene. And those shoe prints left behind can be vital in helping police officers identify who was there while also providing evidence to a jury. But finding the type of shoe that left the print can be a time-consuming, manual process — and the hours immediately after a crime are precious.

Predictive Policing Project Reduces Crime in Santa Cruz, Calif.
The Santa Cruz, Calif., Police Department implemented a six-month predictive policing pilot project, which began July 1, to help officers predict certain types of crime in the city before it happens.

Police Investigations Get 3-D Upgrade in Central Virginia
CSI and Central Virginia may not come across as a flashy combination for a TV show, but some of the futuristic 3-D technology seen on the crime drama series is making an appearance in the Old Dominion state.

Durham, N.C., Begins Public Pilot for Texting 911
While texting has become a popular mode of communication, enabling public safety answering points to join the conversation in times of emergencies has proven difficult.

iPhone App for Child ID Released by FBI
The FBI has released its first mobile app to the public — a place where parents and guardians can store vital information about their children.

Baltimore Crime Camera System Continues to Expand
If you’re walking down the street on Pennsylvania Avenue in Baltimore, make sure to smile because chances are you’re being watched on a crime camera.

California Highway Patrol to Test E-Ticketing System
The California Highway Patrol (CHP) wants to implement a statewide electronic ticketing system for traffic citations over the next few years and is starting the process with a small-scale pilot.

Iris and Facial Scan Smartphone Nears Mass Release
Law enforcement officials searching for an easier way to confirm someone’s identity may have a solution in sight. A new device is nearing the mass production stage that combines iris, facial and fingerprint recognition scanning into a smartphone, giving nearly instantaneous identification results to an officer using it in the field.

Phoenix Police to Wear Cameras on Uniforms
The U.S. Department of Justice has granted $500,000 to the Phoenix Police Department and the Arizona State University College of Public Programs to buy 50 video camera systems that police officers will wear on their uniforms.

Tomball, Texas, PD Flies a Gyroplane on Patrol
The Tomball, Texas, Police Department has become famous in recent weeks for flying a “gyroplane” instead of a helicopter for traffic enforcement and surveillance. According to Auto-Gyro, the craft's manufacturer, the city of Tomball procured the MTOsport gyroplane late last year.

Proposal Would Block Cell Phone Transmissions in California Prisons
Aiming to crack down on illegal cell phone use by inmates, a bill is moving forward in the California Legislature that would authorize the use of “managed access technology” to block wireless transmissions in California prisons.

California Uses Biometrics to Help Target Illegal Immigrants
Any person arrested and fingerprinted in California will now undergo an automatic immigration check.

Coplink Data Sharing System Goes Mobile
A widely used system that brings together law enforcement data from multiple U.S. jurisdictions is now available on mobile devices.

Cook County, Ill., Tries E-Ticketing for Traffic Violations
Paper-based ticketing is slowing becoming a practice of the past, so Cook County, Ill., is launching an effort to make e-ticketing the common practice of the future for traffic citations.

‘Robot Rodeo’ Prepares Oklahoma Law Enforcement for Bomb Incidents
While most rodeos involve cowboys and bull riding, Oklahoma City was the location for a different kind of rodeo — one with robots.

S.F. Bay Area Transit Cops Testing Clip-On Cameras
Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police are beta testing clip-on video cameras that officials hope will increase transparency, accountability and ultimately protect officers from false complaints.

Los Angeles Axes Plans to Add Police Email to Google Cloud
The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously on Dec. 14 to cancel a move that would have put the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and other criminal justice personnel on Google’s cloud-based email system.

Pennsylvania Counties Hatch 911 Tech Sharing Plan
Emergency management agencies are taking a regional approach to public safety in western Pennsylvania, as 10 counties plan to use a shared next-generation 911 system by early 2013

Battery-Powered Police
Law enforcement has gone green in the past, using Segways during patrol. But Segways aren’t effective for high-speed pursuits or off-road expeditions. Now some departments are experimenting with electric motorcycles and scooters.

County Jails Deploy Whole-Body Scanners to Detect Hidden Weapons or Contraband
Strip searches conducted at jails and correctional facilities are being revolutionized — and the “strip” portion is being dropped altogether.

IPads Helping Tenn. Police Fight Crimes on the Go
Law enforcement departments in two Tennessee counties now have a new crime-fighting tool: iPads.