When there’s an emergency, all of us appreciate having police on standby, ready to spring into action at a moment’s notice. Thankfully, technology is rapidly evolving in a way which makes it easier for police officers to do their jobs while keeping both themselves and civilians safe. However, this technology is not cheap, and it begs the question: Should states be investing more in technological advances for police officers? What factors should determine the amount of investment?
There is no one size fits all answer to these questions. Instead, there are a variety of factors that could affect it. Some smaller police forces simply don’t have the workforce or ability to use more advanced technology, like drones or bomb-defusing robots. Other areas have relatively low rates of criminal activity, which makes these sorts of technological advances over the top for their needs. However, there are still plenty of police forces today that don’t have things most of us consider law-enforcement basics, like computers in their cars. They might not have automated license plate scanners that allow for plates to be run against databases that show outstanding arrest warrants. In those cases, it seems safe to say that more technological upgrades are needed.
Some Things Need Upgrading
The simple fact is that many pieces of equipment need upgrading. For example, most breathalyzers are severely outdated, and verdicts in court cases have thrown out hundreds of DUI charges because of this older technology. Additionally, bulletproof vests and weaponry are constantly changing to keep police officers safer. These seem like prime examples of pieces of technology that should be upgraded.
Another fitting example of an area where technology will soon require an upgrade is marijuana. Many states are legalizing weed but still hold that driving while under its influence is illegal. At this moment, instruments are being tested that may be able to determine if someone is high while driving. Given the direction that we seem to be moving as a society in terms of marijuana legalization, it is critical that our police have these tools available once they become technologically reliable.
There is no easy answer to the question of how much to spend on technology for law enforcement. State governments are constantly forced to debate spending limited taxpayer dollars versus keeping police officers and the rest of society safe. These questions must be handled on a case-by-case basis, with input from citizens and local police being at the forefront of the minds of policymakers.
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