The Los Angeles Police Department works to enforce the law and keep the public safe. To aid them in this difficult task, LAPD officials and employees often rely on state-of-the-art technology and law enforcement tools. Things like breathalyzers, in-vehicle computers, and field cameras have helped change the way authorities work on a daily basis. As part of the movement toward technical advancement, the LAPD recently adopted the use of new software capable of tracking ex-cons and individuals who may be likely to commit crimes.
The software, known as LASER, is an advanced program developed by the CIA. It works by collecting data from a variety of sources and linking connections between the data in order to anticipate and combat crime. In addition to tracking the locations of ex-convicts and their alliances, LASER can also help analyze where crimes may be most likely to happen. For example, if a number of ex-cons and known associates are gathered in an area known for criminal activity, officers may be able to use the program to alert them for a need to patrol that particular location.
Cause for Controversy
Although the LAPD was able to acquire LASER through a federal grant, some experts and civil rights groups are criticizing the program. One of the most controversial aspects of LASER is that it will involve a crime intelligence unit creating a list of names of offenders who have a criminal history or routine involvement in local street stops and arrests. The lists will include photos and license plate numbers and is the basis for the LASER analysis and investigation.
While there is no doubt that advanced technology can help authorities better keep the public safe, some are questioning whether LASER goes too far with privacy invasion, data collection, and entrapment. Civil rights leaders have stated that LASER is just a new, technological way of stigmatizing individuals. Others have stated that its collection of information violates federal law.