Challenges that Law Enforcement Officers Have Faced In the Light of Technological Advances
The first challenge the law enforcement officers face as a result of technological advances is the increased opportunities for criminal activity. In this regard, Ekmekcioglu (2012) describes technological advances as facilitators of criminal activities. Technology has revolutionized the manner in which crimes are conducted. In particular, the advent of communication and computer technology has widened the geographical reach of criminals. Jaishankar (2011) elucidates that advances in technology played a crucial role in increasing the occurrences of transnational crimes. It is caused by the fact that criminal organizations have adapted their activities and structures to exploit the opportunities that become available with an interconnected world. Consequently, criminals are increasingly engaging in cross-border activities, as a means of both responding to illegal market opportunities and lessening their vulnerability to the countermeasures set by law enforcement authorities (Jaishankar, 2011). The outcome is that criminal networks and organizations have increased with respect to power and size. Moreover, the great number of criminal organizations have established interests that go beyond their home country. Another observation that poses a significant challenge for law enforcement officials as a result of advances in technology is that transnational criminal organizations are establishing closer working partnerships and relationships in criminal activities of mutual interest (Ekmekcioglu, 2012).
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The second challenge for law enforcement officers is that advances in technology lessen the opportunities for detection of criminal activities. It can be attributed to the fact that technological developments in computer science and communications diminish the amount of physical interactions between individuals engaging in an illicit activities through remote communication (Jaishankar, 2011). Therefore, technological advances increase the flexibility, as well as the evasiveness of criminals, making it difficult for law enforcement agencies to detect criminal actions. For instance, criminals can use the encrypted communications, which undermines the efforts of law enforcement officers (Ekmekcioglu, 2012). Moreover, criminals are using technologies to interfere with law enforcement operations. Technological developments will also make the detection of crimes difficult due to the emergence of new crimes facilitated by technology. New crimes are not necessarily deemed illegal during the first instance (Jaishankar, 2011). They might also remain unrecognized, since the law enforcement officials will have little understanding and training of the nature of such crimes.
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Thirdly, technological advances also present legal and policy concerns for law enforcement officers. According to Jaishankar (2011), advances in technology pose the need to constantly devise laws for dealing with novel and emerging mechanisms. The rate at which technology is changing in itself is an issue of ongoing concern. Moreover, it is becoming difficult to differentiate between criminal and civil conducts due to achievements in technology. For example, it is difficult to distinguish whether the technology-facilitated business activities can be considered a crime or just a form of an aggressive business practice (Jaishankar, 2011). Additionally, technological advances present concerns associated with jurisdiction and enforcement power, since the Internet operates at the international level. Consequently, it is likely to pose a problem when nations implement different standards with respect to what constitutes a criminal activity, as well as the penalties for technology-facilitated crimes (Jaishankar, 2011).
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Recommendations for Future Action
Advances in technology have important implications for law enforcement agencies. Such changes pose the need for modifying the police technology, investigative methods, training and recruitment, and the relationships among enforcement agencies (Ekmekcioglu, 2012). First, crime is increasingly becoming transnational, which means that investigations will be more complex and extensive, posing the need for international cooperation between law enforcement agencies of various countries. Secondly, it is imperative for the law enforcement agencies to ensure that they have a technological advantage over criminals who are increasingly becoming sophisticated (Jaishankar, 2011). In order for law enforcement agencies to be able to detect such criminal activities, they should implement appropriate technological capabilities that outmatch that of criminals. Whereas there is a solid foundation for computer, forensic, and technical crimes, there is a need to expand the capabilities of law enforcement officials by building their technical skills to enhance their capability to perform advanced investigations (Jaishankar, 2011).