The Jurassic Park effect

What happens to law enforcement if high-tech security systems fail?


     Tedesco notes some of the benefits of the TE system. "If you have a bad guy on the street and he has a warrant out in Florida and you're in New York," he says, "you can put the guy's name in and get a complete history of not only if he was ever arrested, but if there [were] even just interviews of that individual in another state, another jurisdiction or another county."

     In addition, the system works with Microsoft's .Net Framework, which allows CIPD to barcode any document and read barcodes on the back of any license. "That information can then be sent to [the] National Crime Information Center and return all the information back for a particular driver or for a VIN number on a vehicle," explains Tedesco. "We can tie it to video cameras; we can share information among agencies with the touch of a button."

Jurassic Park meltdown?

     The risk of data breach of the wireless network, which has a 128-key encryption, is "impossible," Perez says. "As a matter of fact, it's never been known to have been breached."

     Although CIPD relies heavily on technology to secure its district, its officers say their community wouldn't be crippled without it. Instead, they say, the law enforcement and security technology employed throughout Centre Island works in tandem with traditional law enforcement techniques, and each strengthens the other.

     So, when the fence is down, protection from a tech-smart force is still worth something.

     "In the Jurassic Park meltdown example, there were no checks and balances in place," Weiner explains. "My impression is that as these technologies develop commecially, a lot of protections are being designed into them because of a commercial business necessity and also to reduce liability. As a result, when police departments purchase commercial-off-the-shelf solutions, you're actually getting all of the protections and safety measures designed into those systems from the beginning."

     Weiner discusses high-tech policing in the context of a non-fiction catastrophe, September 11, 2001, and notes that a system like Centre Island's may help larger agencies handle a system compromise. Hypothetically, if the NYPD stations nearest to ground zero had had a system like CIPD currently uses, they could have easily used another station's server. That's not to say its system had a malfunction at that time, but with use of systems now available, applying advancing technology would not add risks. CIPD is still confident it would be able to protect and serve in a disaster, because of the redundancies built into the system.

     "The general progression of technology is helping, but also subsequent to 9/11 there has been a great demand signal by police departments to integrate existing technology into their operations," Weiner says. "Whether it's increased capability, increased situational awareness, whatever it may be, since 9/11 there's been a lot of effort and money put into that area."

     In fact, Perez believes that the risk of not developing technological policing is a more realistic threat than a science fiction "what if?" could ever be.

     "There's danger to not technologically advancing in law enforcement, that I can assure you," Perez says. "Intelligence can only be gathered in the future through a technological means. Paper is actually the enemy to law enforcement. The cop on the street not having fingertip access to all the data-mining capacity is detrimental to law enforcement and the public at large."

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