Technology plays a valuable role in connecting law enforcement agencies with communities. In this article, Louis Quijas, Security Technology Alliance Senior Vice President (Special Ventures), focuses on the role of technology in overcoming the challenges they face.
Today’s police chief faces growing challenges from identity theft, organized crime, compliance costs associated with legislative change, ongoing budget constraints and the increasing use and cost of technology.
“By using technology properly, I can keep officers on patrol, reduce my support costs and then have resources to deal with cybercrime.”
When asked how he was going to deal with these challenges, one police chief said “by using technology properly, I can keep officers on patrol, reduce my support costs and then have resources to deal with cybercrime”.
Identity theft is the most visible and often the most commonly reported crime. It can have a devastating impact on those affected. Many police departments have set up cybercrime units, which have experienced some success. However, a lack of resources and increasing workloads limit their effectiveness. The borderless nature of the Internet means police agencies can also find themselves ill-equipped to investigate criminals who electronically prey on citizens from afar.
Increasing Organized Crime Activities
The increasing size, prevalence and sophistication of organized crime means that many law enforcement agencies are in an uphill battle to contain them. By recruiting tech-savvy members, organized crime entities have uncovered a lower-risk, higher-gain form of crime compared to physically committing robberies. Some local law enforcement agencies cannot match the resources of these organizations and therefore lack internal staff with sufficient knowledge to be effective.
Local law enforcement organizations face increasing compliance costs associated with security and anti-cybercrime legislation at both state and federal levels. Most of these new laws are unfunded mandates, which puts additional pressure on local budgets. Keeping up with these law changes becomes a significant task in itself.
Ongoing Budget Constraints
Grants previously available to law enforcement have significantly reduced as a result of budget issues and shifting political priorities. Local government budgets have declined as a result of lower sales tax revenues. State government budgets have reduced through lower transfer payments from Federal government, increased social welfare costs and reduced sales taxes. Public expectation is that government will continue to provide the same services with smaller budgets. This constraint is felt most at the local public safety level because of its smaller size and because local government is more accessible to the public.
Increasing Use and Cost of Technology
Technology can assist public safety organizations in maintaining services within existing or lower budgets. IT systems can improve 911 dispatch services, integrated field-reporting systems can lower administration costs while providing field officers with more information, and purpose-built software can combat cybercrime. Local public safety agencies must also manage their own IT security. Unfortunately, these efficiencies and new tools whilst providing benefits, do come at a cost.
The Usefulness of Technology Partners
Most local law enforcement agencies have solid technology capabilities. However, staff are usually swamped with work, under-resourced and may struggle to keep their skills up to date in the fast changing world of cybercrime.
Employing an organization that already assists law enforcement agencies can be a cost-effective way to keep track of legislative changes and minimize compliance costs. In the event of major crime, or the agency itself being hacked, additional skilled resources e.g. in digital forensics can be valuable to the local team. Due to the borderless nature of cybercrime, an organization with an international presence may be better positioned to anticipate and head off cyber attacks.
A close relationship with a trusted and competent technology partner can directly contribute to managing the issues faced by police chiefs. In a time of limited resources and hiring limits, technology partners can provide flexibility within a variable cost structure. Partnerships are being realized as the most efficient way for police chiefs to stay abreast of technology, resource special emphasis units and provide effective police services with ever decreasing resources.
This article is taken from Connection Magazine, Edition 4. Connection is a collection of educational and thought-leading articles focusing on critical communications, wireless and radio technology.
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