While public opinion about the police varies greatly, it is without a doubt, a crucial part of society. From issuing parking tickets to arresting drug lords, police forces work hard to prevent criminal pursuits and maintain peace and order in the community. As crime evolves with technology, law-enforcement will have to do the same and probably more to keep civilians safe. Here are 10 ways in which Science is advancing police work.
1. Super Recognizers
Super-recognizers are people who can never forget a face. They are one of the most effective tools used by the London police. Around 200 people with this special ability have been recruited by the London Police Department to become a part of a special unit of police officers. This squad has been able to solve crimes ranging from simple muggings to big-time drug deals, using mainly there uncanny “superpower”.
2. Robotic Cops
Many people are familiar with RoboCop, a police officer who was brought back to life using robotic technology to fight crime. Something similar is happening in real-life police departments. A collaborative effort between Florida International University and the US Navy Reserves will allow injured police officers to fight in the front lines by letting them control wheeled robots, which can perform many of the routine jobs of a cop.
3. Digital Autopsy
Autopsies are an important part of many investigations, especially the cases involving homicide or suicide. But there are certain hindrances, such as religion and family preferences that keep police from autopsying a body. But a newly developed method of autopsy may be very helpful in these types of situations. Virtual autopsy will use a combination of CT and MRI scans that will generate a 3D image of a body, which can then be analyzed by a pathologist.
4. Corneal Imaging
Researchers Rob Jenkins and Christie Kerr are developing a method called corneal imaging, which allows the identification of people or objects reflected on the cornea of a person’s eye in a photo. Using a typical digital camera, the scientists took pictures of a person’s face and used an image processing software to enhance the eye of the person in the photo. They found that the cornea of the subject was able to reflect the images of people close by.
5. Quick DNA Profiling
Rigorous methods are involved with DNA profiling, requiring long hours and expensive equipment. But a company called LGC Forensics promises a new device that will be able to profile a person’s DNA within an hour. Called the RapiDNA system, this portable tool can be brought to the scene of the crime for immediate analysis by extracting genetic information from organic materials and comparing it with available profiles on the National DNA Database. As a result, the DNA could be successfully matched with a suspect.
An important, but difficult task performed by forensics is the identification of corpses. Researchers from North Carolina State University have devised a system to make identifying dead bodies easier. The team has developed a software called the 3D-ID that can determine the identity of a body using its skull. The image of the skull is compared with a database of CT scans stored in the software, giving information about the ancestry and sex of the unidentified body, and narrowing down the potential choices.
The police force of one of the world’s largest cities, is also one of the world’s largest with 34,500 police officers and 51,000 employees overall. The NYPD has revealed a program to modernize their police force and curb New York’s crime problem once and for all. The program is called NYPD2020, and its primary project is creating a wave of police cars that are equipped with high-tech tools to make police work much more efficient.
8. Aggression Predicting Cameras
Despite claims that CCTV cameras are meant to prevent crimes from occurring, official statistics revealed that the surveillance cameras do almost nothing to prevent criminal activity. A new development in surveillance technology may actually be able to bridge that gap. Researchers from the University of Virginia have created a camera that is able to predict if a person is about to do something violent. The camera generates a 3D skeleton figure of the subject and analyses its movement, looking for precursors of potentially aggressive actions.
9. Tracking Bullets
According to statistics, one out of every 100 high-speed police pursuits ends in a fatality. StarChase, a company based in Virginia, has developed a small GPS device that can be shot towards a fleeing vehicle. While the suspect is speeding away, the GPS device will track the suspect’s location and relay this information to police officers in nearby areas, instead of a police chasing the suspect at high speeds.
10. Next-Gen Handcuffs
The design for modern handcuffs was patented in 1912 by George A. Carney and has remained almost unchanged since. A new generation of handcuffs will not only restrain, but also electrocute or drug the detainee when necessary. These handcuffs feature a microphone, a camera, and sensors that can track the detainee’s location and physical health. They also contain a device that sends electric shocks to anyone who tries to resist arrest.