Emerging Police Technology: New Ways to Fight Crime

Police technology - drone

We use technology every day. Some of us are excited to get the newest devices from Amazon or Apple each year or every few months.

Now you can speak your order into a machine and have something show up at your door. What could be more convenient?

We have a feeling of staying connected to the world through social media, and we love it. Rarely do we stop to think about how our voices and faces – and sometimes much more – are on the internet permanently.

Rarely do we think about whether these pictures and videos or that device that has a camera or a recording function could be used against us.

Smart Speaker Detective

A news story out of Florida brings that reality to life in a new way for Adam Crespo. He has been charged with the murder of his girlfriend Silvia Galva in an incident he says was an accident.

Crespo was trying to drag Galva off of his bed, he says, when she grabbed a spear with a twelve-inch blade and was accidentally impaled.

Investigators have reportedly obtained recordings from a pair of Amazon voice-controlled speakers that were in the room. Whether they will contain evidence to convict Crespo remains to be seen.

The article states that the speakers are not designed to record unless a “wake” word is used, like “Alexa” or “Echo.” It seems unlikely that one of those words was used during a fight. Moreover, if Amazon has falsely advertised its speakers’ abilities, it’s keeping quiet about it.

Police Presence Now Everywhere

Law-abiding citizens may not think much about how technology is present everywhere. However, you can bet police are thinking about it all the time.

Emerging Technology Police are Using to Fight Crime

Here’s a short list of technology police are using to catch criminals and surveil civilians; at least what we know about:

Facial Recognition

Researchers at Georgetown have found that databases people’s faces housed at local police departments have now cataloged over half of American adults.

Police can now use stationary cameras to perform real-time scans of crowds of people in public.

The FBI uses this technology, as well as several states. The scary part is that AI recognition technology is still fallible. It can make false recognitions.

Video Analytics

Similar to facial recognition, this tool uses AI (artificial intelligence) to identify anything in a scene that could provide clues to law-enforcement, objects like cars, purses, clothes, and people.

Social Media

How many of us realize we’re potentially giving police ready access to not only our faces but our entire social networks through social media?

Most police departments use social media to gather intelligence. However, some of them also contact social media companies directly to obtain information.


AI is now being used to predict where future crimes are likely to occur and who is likely to commit them.

These types of algorithms are used across California, and the NYPD has been in a legal battle over the use of this technology.


Fake cell towers trick cell phones within range to connect with them, enabling police to learn their location and unique ID number.


Police are using these to map areas, investigate crime scenes, monitor traffic, hunt down suspects, and find victims.

Drones are cheaper than ever, making police surveillance ever more ubiquitous.

Surveillance Towers & Cameras

Police departments in urban areas are establishing large networks of surveillance towers and cameras, along with drones.

Constitutional Rights

The Brennan Center for Justice published a report about tactics used by the NYPD. There are threats to American’s privacy, free speech, and due process just as with any new adaptation. It’s up to cities to adjust. San Francisco has banned facial recognition software for these reasons.


What do you think? Should police be fully transparent about their use of technology to apprehend suspects? Or should their investigations continue to be protected?

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