Humans have been given the remarkable ability to turn unassuming elements like metals, plastics, and alloys into something as ingenious and useful as the computer. In society today computers and computer technologies are used for many things and are taken advantage of in almost every area of employment. One field using computers and tech to their disposal to completely revolutionize the way they combat crime is law enforcement. Using computers and technologies haven’t always been taken seriously in law enforcement but have always shown true value when used thoroughly. According to a technical report prepared for The National Institute of Justice “It is estimated that the workload crime imposes on the police has increased fivefold since 1960” (SEASKATE, INC). The spectrum on what technologies law enforcement have been able to utilize is enormous ranging from some of the biggest breakthroughs such as fingerprint/DNA analysis, to video surveillance. With roughly 17″,000 police agencies across the United States private companies and organizations have been unenthusiastic in creating new and effective policing equipment and tech, due to cost and benefit.
Early on in policing there were a lot of areas still unexplored, but as we have advanced so have our methods in which crime is solved. The Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA) was one of the first federal programs designed to grant funding to states to aid in crime fighting. LEAA was upheld for thirteen years and granted roughly $7.5 billion. The purpose of LEAA according to an article published in the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology was;
to encourage state comprehensive planning for criminal justice improvements; to provide technical and financial assistance to improve and strengthen law enforcement and criminal justice; to conduct research and development projects to improve criminal justice operations; and to develop and transfer to the states new techniques and methods to reduce crime, and detect, apprehend, and rehabilitate criminals. (Diegelman)
LEAA was ultimately deemed ineffective when it failed to provide adequate proof of benefit and crime continued to soar. Although LEAA had successes, like training thousands of criminal justice employees the program was ultimately phased around 1980 by President Carter. Although not completely gone, LEAA was replaced with the Office of Justice Programs, and with that came the NIJ (National Institute of Justice). NIJs main goals are to advance tech for criminal justice function, having to do with forensics, criminology and other modes. Like LEAA The NIJ works by granting money to organizations that work in increasing effectiveness in areas beneficial to law enforcement such as technology research and equipment performance standards. One area in particular The NIJ has been able to support is the use of DNA as evidence, by creating the Combined DNA index system (CODIS). CODIS is the United States national data base for DNA. Computerized databases weren’t utilized until IBM started in the 1960’s, consequently 30 years later The Federal Bureau of Investigation was able to start the pilot DNA database program. Now all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico use CODIS. CODIS not only helps link offenders to criminal acts committed, but also keep records for use in missing persons cases. CODIS has aided in over 444″,279 investigations and keeps roughly 14 million profiles on record that could potentially assist in other investigations. See chart below:
As computers and computer technologies gained more practical application police departments continued investing in their use but before the NIJ had even created CODIS another computerized database endured that could be argued even more valuable to law enforcement. The National Crime Information Center, a computerized index consisting of 21 files. NCIC was executed after it was approved in a meeting by the FBI. The 21 files contain information regarding stolen property, missing persons, dangerous or felonious persons, illegal persons, and many other valuable documents. Through computers and technologies every criminal justice agency is able to use the same system and almost instantly get a result. The NCIC is the system police officers use to get hits on whether a car or object is stolen, a person is wanted, a person is missing, and many others.