Exam 2 – Technology advancements and Emerging technologies (CCJ5078 – Computer Applications in Criminal Justice)

Criminal Justice

Exam 2 – Technology advancements and Emerging technologies (CCJ5078 – Computer Applications in Criminal Justice)

QUESTION 1 – Technology advancements and their effect on privacy and civil rights

Over the years, an array of technological advancements have been implemented by policing agencies in order to improve operational outcomes and efficiency mostly in times of diminished resources and the enhancement of the public attention over the years. There is much to be known in regards to the use of technological advancements on matters that relate to law enforcement. The use of technology has resulted to various benefits on the issue of policing although there are various negative impacts on how information technology invades privacy and civil rights (Willis et al., 2010).  Some of the technological advancements in policing for instance include the following.

LPRs (License Plate Readers)

One of the technological advancements in policing is the use of License Plate Readers which are basically cameras with high speed cameras which are paired with software that aids in recognition of characters. This software is one that is capable of reading and documenting thousands of license plates within a minute while at the same recording location, time and date of every scan (Taylor et al., 2012). LPRs can either be stationary in that mounted on structural objects such as overpasses or they can be mobile in that mounted on the police cars. The information obtained in this case is compared with hotlists which are in existence in various license plates and the agencies compile them and the matches which are relevant are used in to send alerts to active police officers on patrol.

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Nevertheless, it is worth noting that in the recent years a lot of controversy has been attracted due to this technology since the law enforcement can retain information obtained from LPRs and can be merged even with the regional information sharing systems (Mclean et al., 2013). Accordingly, concerns have been raised by the American Civil Liberties Union in regards to the rights that citizens have to privacy and that there is need for LPR technology to have tighter regulations. LPR technology is a serious invasion to privacy and when the information can be used inappropriately when in the wrong hands. One of the concerns is that individuals can be tracked and a log of their daily routines can be put together through some databases established by the scanners of license plates. Some of the officers can use the private information about someone for their own gains. For instance, some officers would track down women for dates by speeding at least 100mph to track down women of particular weight, race and eye color with the information that was retrieved from the LPRs.

In my opinion, I am concerned with these threats to privacy since it is not right for the privacy of everyone to be invaded with the aim of tracking someone who has committed an offense.  Despite LPRs being a tool for law enforcement, it should only be reserved for criminal activities. Most motorists are not even aware that their license plates are being scanned since they do not pay them any attention. At least one of the devices scans very car that passes through the city whereby the cameras take the snapshots of the car licenses and analyze them instantly. This is without the knowledge of the owner of the car which is pure invasion to privacy.

Body Worn Cameras

These are small cameras that police use to use for law enforcement and they wear them on the head or chest to record interactions between the public and the officer. They have a microphone that captures sound and internal data storage that saves the video footage to be reviewed at a later time (Willis et al., 2010). These videos as well as audio recordings can be used by law enforcement as a demonstration of transparency to their communities to show a documentation of observations, statements, behaviors as well as other types of evidence. This helps in discouraging any illegal, unprofessional and inappropriate behaviors by both the public and the law enforcement. The use of BWCs has had various benefits such as handling complaints brought by the public, documenting evidence and boosting police accountability and transparency among others. However, people have raised concerns about trust and privacy for instance the erosion of community relationships and the policing efforts within the community being hindered. For example, informants and witnesses maybe reluctant to pass information on the police officers if they notice that the interaction is being recorded.  This can be the case mostly in areas with high crime where they might be in fear of retaliation if the footage is realized in the public (Brayne & Christin, 2020).

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The addition of facial recognition technology to the aspect of policing is also another chunk of personal data that is being collected on people despite the fact they are criminals or not. The information that is obtained can be used in tracking movements and personal associations with people which can also discourage some from attending for instance the lawful protests. Additionally, the police capture the footage using the body cameras on their daily experiences although they are the ones who only have the ability to determine what the public sees. As such, they only release videos that show them at their best or they only promote their perspective. Therefore, they tend to acquire personal data from individuals thus invading their privacy while they may not use the entire information acquired for the intended purpose. Moreover, what officers see with their eyes and hear with their ears is no longer private information hence the need for policies to be established on when is the right time to be recording and that there is need for privacy concerns (Taylor et al., 2012).

Overall, I am concerned about the potential threats to privacy when using BWCs by the police since in most cases they tend to record every aspect of an individual’s life whether you have a criminal record or not. There are no much benefits that are brought about by use of BWCs since the police tend to collect information for their personal interests and not for the citizens. There is no much change on matters transparency and accountability since they are concerned about their own interests.

QUESTION 2- Emerging technological Advancements in criminal justice system

One of the technologies used in advancing the aspect of criminal justice is the use of social media. Social media has become popular over the years and so the police departments have been exploring ways of using social media to have proper communications with the public. Social media can be used by police to share information as well as receive information from the public (Hanson, 2011). There is the use of platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube among others where police post various things which have turned out to be popular. Police can also use websites to have interactions with the public. Posting things on social media aids in getting people to look at various social media platforms used by which aids in engaging the public in all aspects.

The use of social media has had a positive impact on policing whereby the platforms can be used in broadening the intelligence gathering at the same time leveraging the support of the public. The use of social networking has become a gathering tool that is a valuable intelligence element for the agencies of law enforcement. This can also be used as sources of evidence for the prosecution and defense personnel who search Twitter feeds, Facebook pages or even the videos on YouTube where they seek to establish law enforcement bias, discredit witnesses, establish associations between gang members or even track down evidences. In most cases, the perpetrators tend to brag about their the crimes they have committed on social media  and some offenders such as sexual predators and child pornographers have been located through the use of social media (Kim & Mohr, 2017).

The use of social media by the state and local police agencies aids law enforcement to track criminals while they try to hide their activities on social media. They are able to have a clear and true picture of what individuals are doing. For instance, by use of social media, the police can be able to know when for instance the criminals attend functions and the videos or pictures they post can be used to track them. Investigators can also be able to put faces with street names and put together people who are in association (Jeanis et al., 2019).

Some years back when investigators wanted to show association with people they would use surveillance although in recent times they can use video or images from social media platforms as well as blogs to come up with the required information. The use of images and videos on social media can help in yielding other information of interest to investigators. In some cases, the background of photographs can aid in finding child pornographer and their victims. The use of social media by investigators and police have become popular in recent times whereby they get the personal details of individuals online.

Bejan et al. (2018) assert that the use of social media aid is an effective and economical way of police departments informing the community about current events and affairs. In most cases, the law enforcement agencies tend to give warnings and share real time information which is used in protecting the public mostly in case of emergencies. Moreover, the police are able to use the social media platforms in soliciting the support from the public in various emergencies. For instance in Atlanta, the police use Facebook by posting video surveillance of suspects to solicit the public to aid in catching the criminals.

Similarly, in California, the Mountain View Police Department posts pictures of property that has been stolen and recovered as a way of trying to reunite the victims of crime with their property. Moreover, social media has become an essential tool that can be used to alert the public quickly about missing children.   For instance, the officers of law enforcement post photographs of missing children and identify information on Twitter and Facebook by encouraging people who have seen the children to contact the local police. Through improved communication and transparency, law enforcement agencies can foster community trust by use of social media platforms (Jeanis et al., 2019).

The use of social media can be a vital tool to aid in community policing. They are able to reach to a huge number of people through social media in addition to having meetings as they usually do. There is need to target where the public go and in the recent times people have resulted to using social media platforms thus making community policing to also adopt the use of social media platforms. They can have witnesses through social media platforms and even alert people on various issues that are affecting the communities. This way, the process of law enforcement is made easier.

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Nonetheless, challenges have been experienced with the use of social media since there have been cases where some of the jurors have researched cases online and disregarded the required instructions. In this case, they tend to share their opinions form jury box by using Twitter or in some cases they post comments which are biased on the Facebook pages. For instance, in California a juror was caught during the trail blogging details regarding a certain murder case. Despite the fact that social media can help in enhancing the aspect of policing and criminal justice hence supporting the public, it can sometimes be harmful to the users just like other sources of media. For instance, one of the police officers who was an Alburquerque was involved in on duty shooting and brought discredit on himself as well as his department when it was discovered that he had listed in Facebook profile that one of his occupations was “human waste disposal”. Additionally, the actions of some of the officers who deal with high profile cases may end being disclosed on social media if they are not careful with the information they post on social media platforms.


There are various significant advancements that have been witnessed in the case of law enforcement. Technology can lead to the production of various positive outcomes that relate to improvements in policing practices and establishing legitimacy and trust with communities. Nevertheless, technology is always changing mostly in recent times. In this case, new capabilities are being developed in regards to police agencies although there are various ways in which technology can affect the aspect of law enforcement both positively and negatively. Therefore, there is a need for the people involved to be always informed about some of the negative uses of technology in criminal justice and come up with ways of eradicating these aspects.

In regards to the use of social media to aid in the process of law enforcement, it is vital for the personnel of law enforcement to be aware of what they put on their own pages. For instance police officers who tend to use GPS enabled smartphones to post photos may end up revealing the location of their offices or homes to criminals who tend to have the right software.


Bejan, V., Hickman, M., Parkin, W. S., & Pozo, V. F. (2018). Primed for death: Law enforcement-citizen homicides, social media, and retaliatory violence. PloS one13(1), e0190571.

Brayne, S., & Christin, A. (2020). Technologies of Crime Prediction: The Reception of Algorithms in Policing and Criminal Courts. Social Problems.

Hanson, W. (2011). How Social Media Is Changing Law Enforcement. Retrieved 9 December 2020, from

Jeanis, M. N., Muniz, C. N., & Molbert, C. L. (2019). Law enforcement and social media usage: an analysis of engagement. Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice.

Kim, K., & Mohr, A. O. N. E. (2017). 2016 Law enforcement use of social media survey. A Joint Publication by the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the Urban Institute, 1-22.

McLean, S. J., Worden, R. E., & Kim, M. (2013). Here’s looking at you: An evaluation of public CCTV cameras and their effects on crime and disorder. Criminal justice review38(3), 303-334.

Taylor, B., Koper, C., & Woods, D. (2012). Combating vehicle theft in Arizona: a randomized experiment with license plate recognition technology. Criminal Justice Review37(1), 24-50.

Willis, J. J., Mastrofski, S. D., & Rinehart Kochel, T. (2010). Recommendations for integrating Compstat and community policing. Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice4(2), 182-193.

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