The police reflect the community in which they operate and like all of us they have been impacted by technology. The basic technologies the police have acquired through the years consist of transportation, communications, forensics and computers, which have been maintained and improved.
The application of technological innovations and inventions to criminal justice is nothing new. Since the introduction of modern policing and corrections in the 19th century progress has been measured in terms of technical innovation. The introduction of gas lighting in the 1800's was seen as a innovation by helping the police of the time by creating a safer atmosphere and by having better lit streets it was found to actually reduce the rate of crime. One of the duties of the early police was to light to the gas lamps and it was said that 'a good lamp is a good policeman'.
Technological innovations have re-shaped the way in which the police maintain peace and the expectations the public forms upon street police officers.
The first major technological innovations resulted from the mechanisation of policing that was largely facilitated by the administrative reform of the Police Act 1964, which opted for a more policy driven managerial style, rather than the traditionally custodial one. Governmental concerns had a visibly greater impact and new technology was central to these developments (Ackroyd et al., 1992). This widespread mechanisation of the police was achieved at the end of the 1930's in the United States and early 1970's in Great Britain. During this first major wave of technical development the police gained mobility through the introduction of motorcar, the ability to communicate over distances by radios in patrol cars and access to information from forensic laboratories (Soulliere, 1999).
The introduction of the motorcar and the more significant innovation; personal radios, provided greater...