13 February 2006

Smarter Policing with Technology

In 20 words or less, my basic perspective about cops is this: they make it hard for the public to support them. One example is their inexorable urge for car chases. Damage to person and property, especially innocent bystanders, is routine:

The study, "Motor Vehicle Crash Deaths Related to Police Pursuits in the United States," examined accident data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for the years 1994 to 2002.

During that period, 3,146 deaths across the country were related to police pursuits. Of those, 1,088 were of people who were not in the vehicle being chased, several were pedestrians or bicyclists and at least 40 were officers.
[Seattle P-I...]

In other words, the police, who are charged with maintaining public safety, regularly engage in a practice that kills innocent people 35% of the time. Maybe it just sounds bad the way I say it.

Perhaps technological developments such as this will enable police forces to do their job in a smarter and less dangerous way:

It is an air-propelled miniature dart equipped with a global positioning device. Once fired from a patrol car, it sticks to a fleeing motorist's vehicle and emits a radio signal to police.

Bratton hailed the dart as "the big new idea" and said that if the pilot program was successful, Los Angeles' seemingly daily TV fix of police chases could be a thing of the past.
[L.A. Times...]


Michelle Fry said...

I am especially rankled by the Portland Police burea. They adopted tazers a few yeas ago as a first offense weapon to cut down on police shootings. Now it seems like there are a lot of situations where suspects are tazered and then shot for not responding to police even though the victim is too freakin stunned after being tazered to respond. Doesn't make sense, to me at all.

Wes said...

The vast majority of police officers are good, good people.

You have a minority that enjoys hunting (and, arguably, killing) "criminals."

Keith Fangman, for example, falls into the latter category. If the criminal is black, well, that just makes Fangman that much happier.


Mark said...

I actually met Fangman once at the Kroger deli. One of the workers screwed up his order and he was polite and easy-going about it.

Maybe he's different off-duty.