The Next Technology Horizon for Law Enforcement

With rising crime rates and staffing challenges, law enforcement agencies are looking at new ways to utilize technology and data to become more efficient in protecting our communities. A recent report from Thomson Reuters found that 48 percent of law enforcement respondents said that staffing was their top issue of concern with two-thirds placing staffing within their top three areas of concern. Technology has been an answer to staffing and effectiveness concerns with tools like body-worn cameras, license-plate readers, and video surveillance being widely implemented in departments of all sizes. But to continue to meet efficiency and effectiveness goals, law enforcement agencies have to start looking beyond these traditional technologies to more cutting edge and IT-based solutions.


Drones are becoming a powerful tool for law enforcement agencies to extend the eyes and ears of their teams. Increasingly drones are being used as first responders to scan a situation to provide context and information back to responding officers before they get on the scene. This use extends from routine noise complaint calls to domestic disputes to large scale emergencies. In all of these situations, drones are able to get to a location faster than humans and provide exact location and situational awareness for officers to be more precise in their response.

In fact, the state of Illinois has enacted the Drones as First Responders Act to allow law enforcement agencies to use drones for real-time monitoring and threat detection during outdoor events. Similarly, New York City is using drones for emergency prevention. It is testing the use of drones to notify neighborhoods that may be experiencing weather events.

Real Time Data

Real Time Crime Centers (RTCC) integrate data from security cameras, gunshot sensors, and many other technologies to help identify threats and guide law enforcement responses in real time. An RTCC in Winston-Salem, NC, monitors a network of cameras, utilizes a gunfire detection system and automated license plate readers to help identify potential suspects in the area. Following a shooting, officers at the center tracked the suspects via cameras, guiding onsite officers directly to the suspects' location, allowing swift apprehension and firearm retrieval.

RTCCs are helping police become more proactive in their efforts, enabling them to spot issues and trends before they escalate. Using captured data, local police departments can generate "heat maps" of reported crimes that give law enforcement managers critical insight into where to concentrate efforts to generate positive change.

Artificial Intelligence

AI technologies are being leveraged by law enforcement for data analysis to speed up investigations. By pulling together data from numerous sources and applying AI to it, law enforcement can more quickly pinpoint trends and details that can push investigations forward.

Homeland Security is expanding the use of AI to support its undercover operation Corregidor, where special agents infiltrate online chat groups where human traffickers sell explicit digital material from around the world. AI solutions can help reconcile the huge amounts of data that come in as part of the investigative process. Utilizing AI, law enforcement can identify criminals in about four hours as compared to the two weeks it could traditionally take.

More examples of law enforcement technology use can be found in these resources from GovEvents and GovWhitePapers.

  • Public Safety Summit (December 12-13, 2023; virtual) - This event brings together all types and levels of public safety officials - law enforcement, fire, EMS, telecommunications, emergency management, and allied emergency responders from around the United States and internationally to discuss trends and actionable tips that can be applied at their agencies.
  • Homeland Security Week (January 23-24, 2024; Arlington, VA) - Recent developments have highlighted the need for technology, strategies, and approaches to protect the United States against emerging threats. This event will cover diverse topics ranging from border security, cybersecurity, counter UAS, intelligence sharing, infrastructure protection and resilience, identity technology, agency collaboration, budget planning, and more.
  • Data Citizens '24 (April 9-11, 2024; Orlando, FL) - At a time when having trusted data can be the difference between success and disaster, it's more important now than ever to have a strong understanding of industry trends, stay connected to the data community, and have the tools to make strategic, data-driven decisions.
  • How to Advance Public Safety with Data Management (white paper) - The ability to collect, process, and manage massive amounts of data is essential for law enforcement agencies to identify and respond to emerging threats, and to carry out their mandate of keeping the public safe.
  • Law Enforcement and Technology: Use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (white paper) - Some have raised concerns that law enforcement's use of drones could infringe upon individuals' privacy or could chill free speech. Others argue that drone use can greatly enhance public safety and national security--including using them as first responders. Learn more about the debate on how to conduct oversight or legislate on law enforcement use of unmanned aircraft systems.
  • Public Safety Unmanned Aircraft System Resource Guide (white paper) - SAFECOM and the National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators have developed this guide to provide stakeholders with information on unmanned aircraft systems, their impacts on public safety operations, and how the public safety community can establish their own drone programs, if needed.

Check out GovEvents and GovWhitePapers to find more information on how law enforcement is modernizing their use of technology.

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