Technology and Communication
In the early days of criminal justice a police officer who needed to communicate with his headquarters was required to locate and use a Police Call Box. This extra set of steps to call for assistance increased response time and delayed the necessary help that was needed. In the 1930 Motorola began working on an in-car radio that would allow the headquarters to send messages to the officers in the field directly to their cars. In 1936 Paul V. Galvin designed and distributed the first in-car two way radio for police to use in the field called the Motorola “Police Cruiser”( "Motorola solutions: Calling all cars,"2013). Technology has influenced the way people communicate in the criminal justice system for decades from vacuum tubes, to transistors, and to the microchip. Society relies on technology to communicate within databases in the criminal justice field more today than ever before.
One such technological database that exists today is the mobile data terminals (MDT). These semi-portable car mounted systems allow an officer to communicate with dispatch or other officers in the field and make that communication far faster and easier than in the past. With an MDT an officer can call up instant results on a person without the need for waiting on dispatch to send that information to that officer. This technology can keep the officer safer because the less time it takes to identify a potential problem in the field is less time that the individual in question has to think about causing trouble. Within the last 15 years many police departments have opted to stay up-to-date with current technology and replace the dated MDT’s with MDC’s, or mobile digital computers to help the officers gain better data and faster response times (Carson, 1995). The need for an officer to do more from the convenience of his or her patrol car is something that drives the need for innovation. One such device that has made some headway in Law Enforcement is that of mobile fingerprinting devices. One such device, the IBIS, allows an officer to take fingerprints at the scene of a crime and place the individual into the patrol car for transportation to booking. One dayMDT’s, or MDC’s may even allow officers to instantly upload the individual’s fingerprints to a central database, like the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) for reference against other crimes while they are on the scene of the current crime.
AFIS databases fill the need for criminal justice professionals to identify a person quickly and catalog that person’s fingerprints for recall on future crimes. According to Moses (2011), In 1924, the FBI’s Identification Division was established by authority of the United States congressional budget appropriation bill for the Department of Justice. (pp 6-4). The division was responsible for establishing a system by which people could be better identified. This system was made necessary by the invention of the automobile, which allowed people to live in more rural areas and not cluster together in towns where identification was easier. The AFIS database is populated by what is commonly known as traditional fingerprint identification. This method requires that the subject’s finger’s be placed onto an ink pad and one by one placed onto a sheet of paper and rolled from one side to the other to get a good ink image of the print. However, there is a new system recently used that negates the need for ink entirely and relies on image scanning of the subjects fingerprints all at once. This system, known as a live scan has the ability to instantly read, catalog, and compare these prints in minutes. The traditional fingerprinting system would require an individual to scan the prints into the system and upload them to the databases. This process was time-consuming and allowed some degree of error in the misplacing of the