Technology is changing most industries out there today, including law enforcement. While the majority of technological progress is in the digital and information arena, there are always new James Bond-like gadgets being developed for use in the real world.
Recently, police are turning to a new tool, “the Grappler,” to safely end police chases. The Grappler Police Bumper, developed by Leonard Stock, is an ingenious tool to end police chases. The net can be deployed from a car bumper and is designed to wrap around the fleeing car’s back tire, bringing it to a controlled stop.
In an interview with CBS46, Stock said, “When a police officer needs to seize a vehicle, they would flip a switch and it deploys the net and the police officer will direct the net into a rotating tire and that wraps up the axel and the police officer can apply the brakes and pull the vehicle to a stop.”
The Grappler, produced in Phoenix, has so far been used in 15 law enforcement agencies across the country, and has a 90% success rate. According to the Grappler website, officers are interested in investing in the company, comparing it to Axon Enterprise’s “Taser.”
The analogy is fitting. Whereas a taser can restrain a suspect from a distance, the Grappler can do the same only with a car, and painlessly, without any risk of injury.
Cybersecurity and digital tech is a priority for LE
Gadgets like the Grappler are useful for physical crime, but as life becomes more digitized, LE is looking to stay relevant by advancing its online crime-fighting capabilities.
A report in Homeland Security Today detailed the rise of cyber crime and the ways police can protect citizens in the cyber realm from identity theft, financial crimes, and unlawful access to personal and business software and web-based platforms.
The report stated, “As technology evolves so does crime, and the question is whether state and local police lack capabilities to safely prevent and mitigate crime within their communities… The emergence of 5G connectivity will enable artificial intelligence and augmented reality to enhance law enforcement interaction with their respective community.”
Some of the tools being used in this new era include Facial Recognition Technology (FRT), augmented reality (AR), artificial intelligence and machine learning.
FRT compares images pulled from public databases, social media, mugshots, and other legal sources to confirm the identity of a suspect of victim, which can help eliminate witness manipulation and human bias.
Augmented reality technology, such as AR glasses, can help police obtain information quickly, including criminal history in an area, license plate scans, exits in buildings, and identifying life-threatening injuries.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning, meanwhile, will be useful in “evidence-based policing,” advising LE with certain tactics and strategies depending on the situation. Relying on data and algorithms, the technology can enhance crime-solving efficiency.
While technology can be incredibly useful to solving crimes, it does pose threats to individuals’ privacy, system security, and errors in data configuration, which can be costly. As LE adopts new technology, they will also have to adapt to the challenges that this technology brings.