Trends in Law Enforcement


Law enforcement can be described as the discovery, dissuasion, and reintegration as well as castigation of individuals who disrupt the rules and norms regulating the behavior of the public. In addition, law enforcement entails the dissuasion of criminal activities that disturb peace in the society (McElreath, Doss, Jensen, Wigginton, Kennedy, Winter, Mongue, Bounds & Estis-Sumerel, 2013). Besides, law enforcement agencies especially the police are charged with the responsibility of administering rules.

Over the years, the law enforcement component of the criminal justice system has continued to register massive transformations due to several factors. In reality, aspects such as emergent expertise, progressing demographics as well as changing cultural crescendos have influenced the law enforcement sector significantly. For example, in the history of the US, the detection, as well as the apprehension of drug traffickers and illegal immigrants, has been an uphill task faced by the border patrol of the US due to numerous technological challenges. In order to curtail such crimes, high-tech tools including Geographic Information Systems (GIS), seismic sensors along infrared night vision equipment are utilized to map out the locations for illegal immigrants as well as monitor the potential illegal migrant point into the country.

As such, the utilization of modern technologies in law enforcement has not only modernized the capabilities of police in responding to crime in real-time but also to proactively detect problems, evaluate the causes and advance tactical policies aimed at augmenting crime deterrence abilities. Actually, in the contemporary technological age, crime and terrorism have been the major issues of concern to the law enforcement agencies. Therefore, the intent of the paper is to assess the developments that have occurred in the law enforcement segment of the criminal justice system. Further, the paper evaluates how the developments experienced in law enforcement are influenced by budgetary and managerial decisions.

Past Trends

In the past, the movement of law enforcement agencies majorly employed motor vehicle patrols as well as improved officer-precinct communications via telephone and radio. Additionally, the establishment of a forensic lab played a significant role in augmenting the knowledge of law enforcement agencies in criminal investigations. Actually, the establishment of the criminal workshop broke new ground for the utilization of polygraph, fingerprint, and handwriting sorting structures. Through such initial technical improvements, specialized sectors within police organizations were developed to deal with criminal activities (McElreath et al., 2013).

Most importantly, in the period 1946 to 1959, continuous advances in technology led to the bureaucratization of policing organizations. In this epoch, traffic police officers applied crude indicators in measuring speeding violations as well as the conditions of drivers. However, the instruments would later be developed for essential automobile surveillance and blood-alcohol measures (McElreath et al., 2013).

Between 1960 and 1979, the social order moved into the computer phase. The utilization of circulation centers, automated databanks as well as Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) was a major milestone regarding the detection, prevention, and examination of crime outlines. Additionally, the establishment of the 911-telephone system in 1968 enabled citizens to access the police in times of crisis and determine police resource positioning and performance assessment (Baker & Das, 2013). Besides, in order to enhance research on law administration applications along with technical advancements, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) was established in 1968. The NIJ has been instrumental in the augmentation of both domestic and intercontinental law enforcement. Another significant trend in the past concerning law occasioned dependence on civilian experts within police agencies (McElreath et al., 2013). The reliance was due to the expansions realized in forensics and communication expertise.

Present Trends

Currently, technological developments offer law enforcement agencies prospects of accessing and amassing large volumes of data regarding crime occurrences. For instance, the use of telecommunication expertise, mobile computing, expert systems, imaging as well as biometric technologies has proven invaluable in the detection and deterrence of crime occurrences (Baker & Das, 2013). Of great importance is that the access of technological advances by law enforcement agencies created a balancing act between individuals’ concerns including freedom, democracy, social welfare, privacy, and security. In reality, the initiation of sophisticated technologies in law enforcement has greatly heightened the crime deterrence capabilities of police organizations.

Additionally, the application of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) has been significant in the operations of law enforcement agencies regarding the detection and prevention of crime. Essentially, GIS enables the geographical location of data such as crime events through computerized seizure, storage, and scrutiny along with a demonstration of four-dimensional statistics. In other words, the utilization of GIS in law enforcement has transformed automated crime diagraming, as police are now capable of covering assorted statistics thereby underwriting to precise comprehension of criminal activities such as burglaries (Baker & Das, 2013). Besides, GIS is invaluable in combining numerous facts sources to provide a precise grasp of the scope of criminal acts.

Another important current development in law enforcement is the utilization of Computer-driven Statistics (CompStat) in the organization of police processes through institutionalizing accountability. In addition, CompStat is applied in the examination processes that are the epitome of problem-oriented policing prototypes. Indeed, the objectives of law enforcement agencies are to detect, deter and punish law-breakers. However, tracking of criminal activities as well as reporting of crime statistics has often experienced delays (McElreath et al., 2013). With the invention of CompStat, the generation of quick crime activity is realized thereby reengineering organizational concerns of delays in the submission of crime activity reports.

Geographic profiling is also a current application used to detect the locations as well as nail offenders including serial killers, rapists, arsonists, robbers, fraudsters, and burglars. Geographic profiling encompasses the nearness principle in the application. Essentially, the principle contends that when criminals commit offenses, they often linger within contented narrow ranges. In this regard, geographic profiling is presently used to locate high likelihood expanses to emphasize when searching for lawbreakers (Baker & Das, 2013).

The use of surveillance technologies including Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV), Global Positioning Systems (GPS), and Biometrics has also been significant in the operations of law enforcement agencies regarding the tracing of criminals as well as officer placements. Further, the World Wide Web (WWW) is used presently by law enforcement agencies to communicate issues concerning lists of wanted criminals and upcoming court cases as well as crime statistics (McElreath et al., 2013). Besides, the application of Automatic Vehicle Monitoring (AVM) and Mobile Digital Communications (MDC) has provided alternative communication devices for law enforcement agencies.

Future Trends

The emergent technologies are expected to impact on law enforcement segment of the criminal justice system in the coming years. For instance, with the increasing rate of high-tech criminals, development in crime-fighting expertise including facial recognition software, wearable cameras and advances in DNA collection to detect and prevent escalation of criminal activities is in progress. Additionally, the number of legal and illegal immigrants into the US has experienced tremendous growth. As such, there is an increased need to recruit multilingual police officers to enforce laws (Baker & Das, 2013).

Further, law enforcement organizations are embracing the use of data mining and predictive analytics to identify as well as explore the trends of crimes and highpoint-hidden connections realized in fraught situations. Through the application of such statistical analysis, law enforcement agencies will be able to offer clear depictions along with the impending configurations of criminal activities.

Besides, law enforcement agencies are embracing the utilization of graffiti cameras that are capable of capturing photos of suspects that destroy property. Additionally, thermal imaging characterized by the production of images of radiated surface energy will be invaluable in the location of fleeing criminals as well as scanning for evidence (Baker & Das, 2013).

Presently, the cultural changing aspects in America are increasingly rapid. America is graying and as such, increases in the number of white-collar criminals undertaking unlawful activities including fraud and money laundering will be an issue of great concern to American policing (McElreath et al., 2013). More importantly, the Muslim populace in America is expected to register tremendous growth rates in the coming years. Based on this, homegrown jihadists are projected to augment thereby posing threats of terrorist attacks. In principle, the law enforcement agencies will have play a fundamental in dealing with such terrorism threats.

Budgetary and Managerial Impact of the Future Trends in Criminal Justice System

The economic downturn experienced several years ago has altered the way in which criminal justice system services are delivered. With the recession, the budgetary allocations for the criminal justice system have undergone tightening (McElreath et al., 2013). As such, layoffs and furloughs for personnel are major occurrences within the criminal justice system. The future trend in the criminal justice system will affect the managers’ jobs in numerous ways. With the developments in the criminal justice system, the organizational structures, responsibilities and qualifications will be transformed (Baker & Das, 2013). Besides, the frameworks under which the players in the criminal justice system including police and judges operate have to be redefined. Identification and analysis of new challenges and phenomena such as changing security needs, new forms of crimes, new social trends, migrations and changes in institutional structures are significant managerial decisions aimed towards adapting to the changes in the criminal justice system. Moreover, with new developments in the criminal justice system especially the rise in cultural clashes, open-mindedness and honest interpersonal dealings is significant (Baker & Das, 2013). Besides, readjustments in criminal justice systems have shifted the duties for criminal justice packages including the transferal of trial court’s security budgets and innumerable grant platforms to the counties.


As indicated, law enforcement is a significant component of the criminal justice system. However, law enforcement has continued to register massive revolution due to aspects such as emergent expertise, progressing demographics as well as changing cultural crescendos. Additionally, the economic downturn experienced several years ago has altered the way in which criminal justice system services are delivered. With the recession, the budgetary allocations for the criminal justice system have undergone tightening. As such, layoffs and furloughs for personnel are major occurrences within the criminal justice system.


Baker, B. F., & Das, D. K. (2013). Trends in policing: interviews with police leaders across the globe. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

McElreath, D. H., Doss, D. A., Jensen, C. J., Wigginton, M., Kennedy, R., Winter, K. R., Mongue, R. E., Bounds, J., & Estis-Sumerel, J. (2013). Introduction to law enforcement. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.