Though we might not know exactly what the future looks like, we can extrapolate some changes that are likely to take place in the tools that law enforcement uses in their ongoing efforts against crime and chaos.
The Future of Law Enforcement Technology
We can all see advancements in technology on a daily basis. From drones in our skies to algorithms in our web browsers, the world is changing. Law enforcement will face new challenges, but they will also find novel tools to assist them in their duties. Machine learning and artificial intelligence are coming together in trailblazing approaches to data analysis, taking on much of the exhaustive legwork of sorting through text messages, CCTV, and even footage from body cameras. Computer algorithms will enable law enforcement to be in many places at once, and accomplish more with fewer resources, making sure that the important task of maintaining law and order is accomplished.
The Role of Technology in Crime
The tools available to police in the future will be extremely valuable because the varieties of crime will also evolve with technology. The dark web and other internet-based information exchanges will challenge law enforcement to embrace new ways of communicating, in order to better solve or prevent crimes that occur beneath these shady street corners of the web. The growing influence of social media on everybody’s daily life will also necessitate an understanding of all the newest and most-used apps. Police of the future will need to be able to use these technologies with the same flexibility and shifting attention of the general populace.
Social Changes in The Future of Law Enforcement
The killing of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and the resultant protests and social upheaval experienced in cities all across the country, signal a need for change in the way that police serve their communities. The year 2020 has brought an unprecedented amount of scrutiny and attention to the procedures law enforcement uses in potentially dangerous situations. Regardless of the stated goals of these social movements, the changes coming to law enforcement in America are inevitable and impossible to ignore.
Evolving Law Enforcement Roles
One change that is much more difficult to predict than technological advances is the shifting social landscape and what law enforcement will become. As we see all across the country—especially in places like Minneapolis, where “defund the police” evolved from a rallying cry to a regulatory mandate—the function of law enforcement in American society is under greater scrutiny than it has been in decades. As other municipalities and government representatives reevaluate the role that police have in their communities, we can foresee at least a few important possibilities.
Many have taken to see the police as an application of force rather than as keepers of the peace. Police in the future will likely rely less on weapons like sidearms and tasers and more on social skills like counseling and negotiation to de-escalate violent interactions. Law enforcement will be expected to solve problems through soft social skills rather than force. Regardless of how the funding of police forces evolves in the next few years, law enforcement will be at the forefront of the discussion.
Education Advances, Too
All of these changes will necessitate a change in the expected knowledge base of law enforcement personnel, which means more education. There is no better way to make sure our law enforcement is up to the task than by educating them. Check out West Liberty University’s MS in Criminology program.