Ethical Use of Technology is a Game Changer in Closing the Public Safety Gap
A recent article in the Washington Post pointed to the many ways law enforcement agencies are using emerging technologies to protect communities and solve crimes.
Drones, body cameras, and Digital Intelligence solutions all play a vital role in helping investigators run cases more effectively and efficiently. These days, when police departments are still recovering from staffs made smaller by the pandemic, technologies can indeed help fill some of the gaps by acting as force multipliers.
- Drones are proving to be hugely helpful to police on everything from finding missing children to identifying suspects and dangerous criminal activities, to adding invaluable information to those investigating violent crimes and acts of terrorism.
- Gun-shot detection systems, like ShotSpotter, are helping dispatchers pinpoint where shots were fired to direct officers to the scene as quickly as possible.
- Body-worn cameras are providing a way to feed valuable information from the field straight back to departmental decision-makers to ensure investigations are handled in the best possible manner to avoid confrontations and potential injuries to both officers and civilians.
- Robots are providing an extra measure of safety for officers in potentially dangerous situations where “robotic dogs” can be sent into crime scenes to gather intelligence without risking officers’ lives.
- Digital Intelligence solutions are enabling law enforcement to lawfully collect, manage, analyze, and share data in ways that are completely transforming investigative workflows to close the public safety gap and get criminals off the street faster while protecting the innocent.
- Technical solutions, like those offered by Axon in a recent partnership with Cellebrite, are providing a way for citizens to upload their own videos, photos, and other information for analysis by law enforcement while preserving personal privacy.
Despite all of the benefits that technology brings to the table, however, the use of technology can present interesting ethical challenges for both citizens and those sworn to protect them.
The Privacy Conundrum
Citizens want to be protected and technologies can be hugely helpful in providing protection. However, many citizens fear that used in an unethical manner, technologies can pose a threat to their personal privacy. Officers on the street are equally concerned that body-worn cameras and other surveillance technology are being used to scrutinize their every move, making it even more difficult to do their job.
The problem has become so stressful that some officers are leaving law enforcement out of fear of becoming the focus of the next social media storm should their slightest misstep be misinterpreted. In more extreme instances, some have taken a far more hands-off approach, preferring to sit back and observe rather than risk getting involved in what could become a confrontation that escalates or is misinterpreted as being an act of violence when they are only trying to do their job.
Understanding the Public Safety Gap
What most citizens don’t understand is just how much harder solving cases today has become.
- The increased scale and complexity of cases fed by the rise and rapid adoption of digital technology is one driver.
- Criminals are using the latest technology to commit far more sophisticated crimes including crimes against children, drug and human trafficking, financial crimes, and acts of violence.
- Tech advances, like encryption, offer an easy way for criminals to hide illicit acts. This makes it much more difficult for law enforcement to investigate crimes.
- The volume of digital evidence is exploding. Cases often now involve multiple devices including phones, wearables, videos, the Internet, photos, apps, and cloud sources.
- Reviewing all of this data to find leads and make connections is extremely complicated because even the simplest cases can involve multiple suspects and devices.
- Finding the connection between these cases and suspects is critical for expanding investigations and potentially disrupting an even broader network of criminals and activities. Yet, many agencies lack the tools and skilled personnel to do so.
So, while citizens demand better protection, many don’t understand the complexities of modern policing or the tools and training law enforcement agencies need to effectively do their job.
The answer to this tech conundrum, of course, lies somewhere in the middle with citizens and law enforcement working together to find better ways to safeguard communities, preserve individual privacy, and protect officers.
Here are six key steps agencies can take to help close the public safety gap and restore community trust.
6 Steps to Success
- Look Inward: Self-evaluation is the best place to start. What does your workflow look like now and how would you like it to look in the future to handle the growing complexity of crimes? What solutions are you currently employing and what does your team need to stay ahead of tech-savvy criminals? Is your staff adequately trained to use the solutions that you have and new solutions you may wish to onboard?
- Seek a Total Solution: Cellebrite has developed an innovative architecture and approach for modernizing investigative workflows that starts with its Digital Intelligence platform. Far beyond simply collecting data, this platform provides a complete, end-to-end solution that streamlines the entire investigative process and aligns key stakeholders across the agency. Our experts are ready to work with you to streamline your entire process to solve more crimes faster and make prosecutions stick.
- Invest in Training: Upskill your staff members to build more efficient investigations. Cellebrite has a deep bench of industry experts that can provide teams with both on-site and remote training and services as part of an ongoing practice of self-improvement. Creating an atmosphere that encourages employees to grow their skills is a strong morale booster and a smart way to retain and attract tech-savvy talent.
- Outsource to Lighten the Load: Take advantage of customized solutions and keep abreast of the latest technologies through Cellebrite Advanced Services to make your teams more effective and help to reduce backlogs by utilizing our special team of experts.
- Choose The Right Mission Partner: Closing the public safety gap by modernizing the investigative workflow and culture isn’t just about adopting the right technology platform and upskilling employees; it’s also about choosing the right partner to help accomplish this mission. At Cellebrite, we’re dedicated to evaluating your needs and working with you to meet your mission today and tomorrow by providing agencies with the means to evolve as technologies advance and new challenges arise.
- Look Outward: Building community partnerships is critical to restoring public trust. Work through your community leaders to show citizens how you’re using technology responsibly to protect them while safeguarding their privacy.
As digital sources and volume grow, and criminals become more sophisticated in their methods, the need for agencies to evolve could not be more urgent. Regaining public trust by modernizing the investigative workflow and changing the investigative culture is the key to closing the expanding public safety gap.
The professionals at Cellebrite stand ready to listen to your needs and share their expertise as a true mission partner. To learn more about how Cellebrite can help modernize your investigative workflow, contact your local Cellebrite representative or click here to get started.