The use of information technology by law enforcement agencies can significantly cut the number of police personnel killed or injured in the line of duty, reducing violence as much as 50 per cent, says new research.
People haven’t previously known much about the impact of IT on police safety, because relatively few departments used it until recently and there hasn’t been much research on the topic.
“The use of IT by police increases the occupational safety of police officers in the field and reduces deaths and assaults against police officers,” said Paul A. Pavlou, dean of the CT Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston.
Pavlou and Min-Seok Pang of Temple University used data from the FBI, the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics and the US Census to build a dataset correlating IT use and reported violence against law enforcement from 4,325 US police departments over a six-year period.
The analysis determined extensive use of IT by the police could cut violence against law enforcement between 42 per cent and 50 per cent — amounting to between six and seven fewer assaults or deaths for an average-sized police department.
For large urban departments serving more than 1 million people, relying on information technology could mean up to 199 fewer assaults or deaths, said the study published in the journal Decision Support Systems.
The dataset focused on the use of information technology in three areas: Crime intelligence, crime prediction and crime investigation.
The use of IT to learn more about potential suspects improves the likelihood that police can make an arrest without violence, the researchers said.
Discovering that a suspect is likely to be armed, for example, can lead police to don protective gear.
The finding is also applicable to other types of workplace safety, including those involving factory workers, chemical plant employees, truck drivers and other high-risk occupations. (IANS)