Monday, April 18, 2005

It's no good to have it and not use it...

From the Toledo Blade:

At least six traffic stops. Five driver's license renewals. One night in jail.

At any of those times, Toledo's most elusive murder suspect could have been nabbed in a four-decade-old electronic, nationwide web for fugitives - had Toledo police entered the arrest warrant into an FBI database. Now, the arrest of David Delacruz raises a key question: Are there other fugitives whose warrants have not been entered into the proper electronic databases?

Toledo police have 8,476 active warrants, dating to 1954, court records show. A third of those are felonies - the more serious category of crime. Toledo police say they don't have a system in place to ensure fugitives' names have been entered into the correct databases.

While such information has been automatically sent to databases since the late 1980s, old warrants had to be typed in. And police have no central repository for those old paper warrants, particularly from the 1970s. Court records show Toledo police have 512 active felony warrants issued before 1980.

Police technology is a great thing, but you have to actually use it for it to be effective.

To be fair, I think many old American institutions are still playing catch-up to modernity. Businesses have to be a technologically advanced as possible because they make their money from efficiency and customer service. If a business is behind the times, it's going to lose money and go out of business.

Cops, on the other hand, don't make profit from their business savvy. Whether they have lots of technology or very little, it doesn't make a huge difference to their bottom line. Some departments still make their officers hand write all their reports! Clearly efficiency isn't on some department's radar screen.

Eventually it will get all worked out. Not to rag on police veterens or anything like that, but I think that now that the old guard is passing on and younger generation are becoming the Captains, Commanders, Chiefs, Commissioners, and Mayors, we are seeing the birth of a real techno-boom in policing. This is not to say that the old guard is holding us all back or being obstinate (though perhaps some are), but rather that I think Generation X is just more culturally attuned to rapid progress. It's a socio-cultural thing rather than an ego thing. I'm certainly not eager to lose many of our vets because they have so much wisdom to impart. I mean, some of our instructors were out patrolling before cops carried radio packs. Can you imagine policing downtown LA without access to a radio? That takes some real courage and some real skills.

Anyways, it's an exciting time to be entering law enforcement. For all the stupid lawsuits and ridiculous vitriol against cops, all the new toys we get to play with that help us put bad guys in jail totally make up for it.


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