Jim Bueerman, President of the Police Foundation, discusses how law enforcement can use technology in their work and how NIJ research helps law enforcement make better decisions about the consequences and impact of new technology.
BUEERMANN: I was talking along with other panelists about technology being cheaper, faster, and smarter. We focus primarily on body-worn cameras — UAVs, otherwise known as drones, and land-based surveillance cameras, CCTV.
How has your partnership with NIJ been beneficial?
BUEERMANN: So the Office of Science and Technology in NIJ is designed to help practitioners and researchers better understand the implications of technology. There are human sides to all of these technologies that we frequently don’t understand, and there are certainly lots of complicated pieces to almost any piece of technology we use, and we can pick them up off the table, so to speak, and start using them without any sense of the implications, or we can do it in a much more thoughtful, scientific manner to understand the impact that whatever that technology is having on our operations and, perhaps more importantly for the taxpayer, whether this technology works. So the evaluation of the technology is something that NIJ focuses on in all of its efforts and understanding whether any program or technology we pursue in the field of public safety — whether it works or not — is fundamental to being good stewards of taxpayer investment in public safety.
What research priorities do you see for the future?
BUEERMANN: Well I hope that we spend more research on evaluating these technologies. Not only are they effective — are they doing what we hoped that they’ll do — but also, are there unintended consequences. Do people either not understand how they are being used, do they enhance, or unfortunately do they detract from the legitimacy, trust, and confidence that people feel in the police. I think that we’re going to find other uses of these that will increase the public trust and confidence in the police in using them, and lastly, I think that this kind of technology lends itself very well to the community understanding the coproduction of public safety. In other words, working with the police to solve community problems. So it’s really UAVs in that context, in my opinion, are really a community-policing kind of technology if the police reach out to the community and say together we want to do that.