The director of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) describes the research NIJ is sponsoring regarding advanced technologies for use in law enforcement.
The police need to become more technologically sophisticated, if only because technology offers so many new opportunities to criminals. Police managers need to become computer-literate and to use computers for problemsolving, crime analysis, and detection, not just as a faster and more convenient way to transfer information from one place to another. Clearance rates have declined in the last 20 years, because the police are overburdened and the standards of evidence have become stricter. NIJ is currently supporting an experiment in computerized policing in St. Petersburg, Fla., in which all information is filed electronically rather than on paper. The final results of this field test have not yet been analyzed, although it is clear that the free-text part of police reports has improved markedly. Another new program being tested is the computerized mapping of crimes by the Chicago Police Department. A further effort, now in use in several major cities, is an updated method of allocating patrol cars. Another program involves analyzing repeated calls from the same addresses in Minneapolis, to determine the underlying problems. NIJ also developed the Drug Use Forecasting System, which is now in place in 21 cities. Research and development is also focusing on computer-assisted voice identification, genetic testing, and the use of artificial intelligence to identify top suspects in residential burglary cases.