America formed its first police forces with ideas and ideals inherited from British law enforcement institutions and they have continued to evolve ever since. The Chicago police department as we know it today is one of the worlds’ finest and most advanced police forces. Chicago formed its first true police force on April 10, 1855. The officers were just a small group of constables. Their uniforms were no more than plain clothes and a badge attached to leather bans around their hats. As for their choice of communication and protection, they wore a whistle and carried a club to enforce laws and influence citizens. Chicago saw an increase in crime and needed new ways to communicate a need for assistance. In 1881 the first 7 foot street lights were installed on streets corners to be used by officers and civilians to alert authorities of crime and a need for assistance. In 1893 the Chicago police became aware of a need for woman on the force to search and guard female prisoners. In 1910 the Police department expanded its use of technology by adding patrol boats and motorcycles. By 1918 they were using motor vehicles for patrols and in 1930 used transmitters to communicate with its police officers.
Today the Chicago police force has grown to approximately 13,000 officers and has evolved tremendously since the installation of police call boxes and the fingerprinting systems. Today they utilize science with enhanced DNA testing, software and streaming videos just to name a few. The police force of today embraces technology and education turning policing into a profession. The Chicago police force emphasis’s a need for good training, discipline, and alternatives for police officers. For example, Government Technology TV shows us how loud speakers can be heard for miles so victims can be made aware of search teams.
Those same speakers can also be used to hear victims. This technology can also be used to control crowds by subjecting the crowd to a frequency that hurts their ears, giving law enforcement a less than lethal option. Pepper guns and tazers are also a new form of less than lethal technology allowing police officers to incapacitate subjects without using lethal force. These new advances in weapon technology give police officers alternatives to harming subjects and also provide needed distances to keep police officers and the public safe. Police departments are also using wireless cameras to conduct surveillance. This can allow officers to go unseen while collecting needed information to conduct operations safely.
As technological innovations allow law enforcement to reach into the future and become more efficient, it has also caused law enforcement to lose some ground. The police have become less community oriented in some areas. Police officers are somewhat cut off to the public. While the use of police cars and radios have allowed for quicker responses it has also made officers somewhat hard to approach. Police officers tend to patrol with their windows up while enjoying the climate controlled ride of their patrol car. This creates a wall between them and the average citizen and reduces the officer’s ability to hear a cry for help.
Advancements in uniform design and technology may also cause some civilians to shy away from approaching police officers. New tactical uniforms give a perception a paramilitary force and may even cause undue fear and anxiety among the populace. While increasing the use of new technology, police departments will have to increase their effort in regards to community relations. Police forces face many vexing problems and many officers still rely on the most basic forms of technology, their gun, verbal judo, and fists when a need for force is needed. Technology has also caused citizens to feel as though they have lost their constitutional right to privacy. People tend to view the government and police agencies as “big brother”. This has caused distrust and spawned conspiracy theories where law enforcement is concerned. The Chicago police department along with the law enforcement as a whole will have to spend resources on reassuring the public and continue to take advantage of technology while focusing on the police officers role.