Use of Technology in Different Policing Eras


Policing methods and activities regularly undergo considerable changes, depending on available resources and current achievements. There are three main eras in policing, namely political, professional (or reform), and community. Each period has its characteristics and contributions to the development of social and interpersonal relations, and the promotion of technology and science has its impact. Despite the existing technical improvements in law enforcement quality, one should remember that the same methods could be used to commit crimes. In this paper, attention will be paid to the benefits and challenges of policing-science-technology interaction, relying on the information from the Crime and Violence Prevention Center and recently published peer-reviewed articles. The growth of police power and its methods during the three eras due to technology cannot be ignored because all these changes shape the world’s views about policing and its penetration into people’s lives.

Policing Eras

Each era in policing has its own purpose and impact on crime control and prevention. For example, the political era (the period from the 1840s to the 1920s) was characterized by the connection between police and political leaders (O’Connor & Shon, 2019). Politicians legitimized the police as a crucial element in society’s control. During the professional or reform era, the police adopted its first technologically advanced activities to become not only “a jack-of-all-trades and political muscle” but “professional crime fighters and preventers (as cited in O’Connor & Shon, 2019). The third era, known as community policing, was associated with improved ties between the community and the police and a transition from reactive strategies to proactive tactics.

Policing Methods

As soon as people learn how technology could influence routine activities, its usage in policing became evident. In comparison, during the political era, police officers were equipped with guns and nightsticks and used local telephones or telegraphs to share information and prevent crimes. With time, innovative fingerprinting and DNA systems were implemented as professional assistance in criminal investigations. The reform era showed how the police could professionalize and isolate themselves from communities and the political impact (O’Connor & Shon, 2019). Forensic laboratories allow using scientific methods in investigations, later technological devices (radio in patrol cars) promoted mobility and control of officers. The era of community-oriented policing is known for its problem-solving approach that influences police behavior and improves the efficiency of services (Lockyer, 1999). On the one hand, the police faced competition from private security organizations (O’Connor & Shon, 2019). On the other hand, the exchange of information, the identification of problems, and communication broadened police responsibilities and increased the population’s satisfaction.

Scientific and Technology Impact on the World

Recent technological and scientific innovations continue changing policing in a variety of ways. Information-based technologies include artificial intelligence-(AI)-based devices and systems to manage crimes and disorders by analyzing people’s behaviors and comparing criminogenic phenomena around the globe (Hayward & Maas, 2020). AI technologies connect law enforcement organizations and policing databases to create crime algorithms. However, it is not enough to work with the already made criminals who are free to follow new standards and use their knowledge. Science and technology are necessary to show that protection can be improved. One of the brightest examples is implementing facial recognition programs and identifying threats before they emerge (Hayward & Maas, 2020). Material-based technologies like global positioning systems (GPS) make rapid processing of traffic accidents possible today (Zuo et al., 2018). Modern police officers are equipped with fast-speed automobiles and constant connection with 911 call centers that help respond to crimes quickly and predict the development of complications (O’Connor & Shon, 2019). Finally, even simple psychological and intelligence tests that are obligatory for potential police officers to take are a scientific innovation to strengthen policing power and appropriateness.

Strengths and Shortages of Policing-Science-Technology Interaction

As a result of interaction with science and technology, policing has encountered a number of benefits and challenges. Although it becomes possible to predict crimes, observe people distantly, and even analyze gunshots in different regions, police officers should always remember that the same technology could be used by criminals. AI technologies introduce strong control devices, but many people are interested in breaking the already existing systems and setting new standards (Hayward & Maas, 2020). Law enforcement is changing rapidly, as well as the crime world. Police officers drive fast cars, use the best protective means, and share information. There are no guarantees that criminals are able to do the same. Therefore, to make sure that science and technology interaction positively affects policing, it is important to educate and train the police all the time. Problem-solving training and community partnership are the elements of organizational change (Lockyer, 1999). As soon as people start using technologies without neglecting the contributions of human relationships and police experience, the strengths of such interactions could prevail over their shortages.


Understanding interpersonal and social relations in policing at different periods is necessary because they are closely related to scientific and technological progress. Each era of policing has its specific signs and achievements: the power of political leaders and the lack of technological innovation during the political era, forensic laboratories and automobiles in the reform era, and AI technologies and monitoring systems in the community era. Despite the fact that criminals could access the same technologies as police officers do, problem-solving approaches and cooperation with the community are the main strengths of policing.


Hayward, K. J., & Maas, M. M. (2020). Artificial intelligence and crime: A primer for criminologists. Crime, Media, Culture. Web.

Lockyer, B. (1999). Community-oriented policing and problem solving: Now and Beyond. Web.

O’Connor, C. D., & Shon, P. C. (2019). Civilising the police: Reconceptualising the role of the state in theories of American policing. Global Crime, 20(1), 45–64. Web.

Zuo, W., Guo, C., Liu, J., Peng, X., & Yang, M. (2018). A police and insurance joint management system based on high precision BDS/GPS positioning. Sensors, 18(1). Web.

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