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I’m sick of all this techno junk! Yeah—even this stupid computer I’m using now. My department recently went to the mobile-data-computer-in-the-car thing. Everyone thought it was the greatest thing in law enforcement since the Smith and Wesson Model 10. I, on the other hand, am the proverbial dinosaur. I don’t have a terminal in my car, so I’m able to observe things from a distance.
Six months ago, our radio traffic included, “Did you see that guy back there with his hat pulled down over his face?” Or “There’s someone hiding in those bushes back there.” But today, thanks to the modern miracle of electro-gizmos, our radio traffic is limited to, “Hey, is your computer up?” Or “I think I’m going to have to reboot and log in again.”
It’s crazy! I know cops who don’t even get out of their cars to take a call. Just pull up, roll down the window, type in the info, and go. Quicker than any fast food chain in town.
I see officers listening to whatever those blue things are stuck in their ear, talking on the radio, sending text messages and typing a report all at the same time. Meanwhile, some poor clerk is getting his brains blown out right behind him at the local Stop & Rob.
Am I the only one out there who feels this way? Our job is still to catch bad guys— isn’t it?! Please let me know if things have changed.
Technology is a funny thing, isn’t it? Some of it we love, and some of it we hate. I’ll get to your specific issue in a bit, but first, let’s look at some of the technology you most certainly embrace.
You hinted at it in your question with your line about the S&W Model 10. Like it or not, Lead-for-Brains, that was a technological change in law enforcement.
Now, take it a step further. I remember when a partner and I were going after a robbery and kidnapping suspect. There were a ton of units all over the place looking for this guy, and a chopper buzzing overhead. My boy and I, being the aggressive types, decided we were sick of all the confusing radio traffic, so we just started tracking the guy over the river and through the woods. We didn’t find Grandma’s house, but we found this S-bird hiding and yelling at us that he had a gun. Right about then a big brother agency rolled up, and their first guy got out with an M-16 (full-size A-2, just like the military other than the full auto).
I’m here to tell you, that’s a technological change that made me feel pretty good. Another thing that made me feel good: I was wearing my vest, as I always do, and that vest is another technological advancement. Do you wear your vest, or do you expect the lead in your head to protect you?
I can hear you bitching already: “That darn Bullethead! I was talking about the computer and stuff like that, not guns and vests!” Like it or not, computers, guns and vests are all technological changes .
I’ve heard of a place where the troops carry recorders in their pockets, they have mounted video in their cars, they have GPS in their cars, and they have a computer system that can read the GPS and tell them the quickest way to get to the next call. I heard their system can even allow one officer to see a real-time feed from another officer’s video. To top it off, this agency is working on a real-time video feed from its helicopter to the cars on the street. You can say whatever you want about technology, but I’m hear to tell you that seeing a real-time feed from the sky is gonna be helpful and improve safety in a bunch of different ways. Oh wait there, Mr. Lead-for-Brains! You won’t be able to see it—because you’ll be driving an old car without a computer!
Don’t get too pissy. Your point isn’t lost on me: We do have some youngsters out there who rely way too much on the computer and not enough on street sense and guts. As a dinosaur, your job is to get out of your rut and learn how to use the computer. You also need to teach the youngsters when they need to close the damn thing and pay attention to the street. Police work is a thinking person’s game, and cops need both sides of the coin.
The technology isn’t going away, so embrace it and use it to your advantage.