Real-life police technology catches up with science fiction

New innovations will keep citizens safer

By Elaine Pittman

Images of the future of police technology were once only found in movies. James Bond's gadgets left audiences awestruck - and wondering when the tools might be used by their state and local law enforcement offices. The time, it turns out, is now.

In the Southwest, one state is testing a device that shoots a small GPS-equipped dart that attaches itself to a suspect's vehicle during a high-speed pursuit. On the West Coast, a police department is using ear-mounted video cameras that capture an officers' view of traffic stops and other incidents. Police departments on the East Coast are using cameras on patrol cars to scan and track the license plates of each vehicle they pass, which lets them recoup overdue parking violations fines. It seems real life is catching up with science fiction.

Law enforcement technology may be evolving, but it hasn't changed the core responsibilities of police officers' jobs. Lt. Raymond Foster, author of the book Police Technology, said police officers still must talk to people and gather information. "Evidence is nothing but information," he said.

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