Law Enforcement Technology Timeline- 1950-Now

Timeline created by JohnsonTSA
  • Vacuum-Tube Operated Calculator

    Vacuum-Tube Operated Calculator
    The New Orleans Police Department installs a vacuum-tube operated calculator with a punch-card sorter and collator. It summarizes arrests and warrants.
  • Side-Handle Baton

    Side-Handle Baton
    A side-handle baton was invented by a former marine. The baton has a handle that is attached at a 90-degree angle near the gripping end. Its versatility and effectiveness eventually make the side-handle baton that is standardly issued in many U.S. police agencies.
  • TASER (crowd control)

    TASER (crowd control)
    One of the devices that was tested as a crowd controller was the stun gun. Later, the stun gun evolved into the TASER. A device that shoots two wire connected darts into the victim and delivers 50,000-volts shock that interrupts the connection of the brain and the muscles, temporarily disabling the offender. By 1985, every state police department had used TASERs and continue to today. Although the device works great for crowd control, it is restricted in what it can do due to its limited range.
  • National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System

    National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System
    A message-switching facility that links all state police computers (except Hawaii), called the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System, was put into all state departments.
  • NCIC

    The National Crime Information Center (NCIC), the first national law enforcement computing center is inaugurated by the FBI. Some say NCIC was "...the first contact most smaller departments had with computers..." NCIC is a computerized national filing system on wanted persons and stolen vehicles, weapons, and other items of value. 
  • President's Commission on Law Enforcement

    President's Commission on Law Enforcement
    President Lyndon B. Johnson concludes that the "...police, with crime laboratories and radio networks, made early use of technology, but most police departments could have been equipped 30 or 40 years ago as well as they are today..." at the President's Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice.
  • 911

    911 was created by AT&T announcing that they will establish a special number for emergency calls to the police, fire, and other emergency services. Within the next few years, 911 systems are in used in most urban areas.
  • CAD

    The large-scale computerization of the U.S. police departments begin. Major computer-based applications in the 1970s included computer-assisted dispatch (CAD), management information systems, centralized call collection using three-digit phone numbers (911), and centralized integrated dispatching of police, fire, and medical services for large metropolitan areas
  • Body Armor

    Body Armor
    The National Institute of Justice initiated a project that leads to the development of lightweight, flexible, and comfortable protective body armor for the police. The body armor is made from Kevlar, a fabric originally developed to replace steel belting for radial tires. The soft body armor introduced by the Institute is credited with saving the lives of more than 2,000 police officers since its inception into the law enforcement community.
  • Fingerprint Reader

    Fingerprint Reader
    The first first fingerprint reader is installed at the FBI by Rockwell International. In 1979, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police implemented the first actual automatic fingerprint identification system (AFIS).
  • Innovate 911

    Law enforcement innovates 911. This new version allows dispatchers to see, on their computer screens, the addresses and telephone numbers from which 911 emergency calls originated.
  • Pepperspray

    Pepper spray, or Oleoresin Capsicum (OC), which is synthesized from capsaicin, a colorless, crystalline, bitter compound present in hot peppers, is developed and used by police as a force alternative.
  • Computer Usuage

    More than 90 percent of U.S. police departments serving a population of 50,000 or more are using computers. Many are using them for such relatively sophisticated applications as criminal investigations, budgeting, dispatch, and manpower allocation.
  • Automatic License Plate Recognition

    Upgrades to Fonts and Computer Sytems allowed technology to obtain better read results, even up to 100 mph.
  • TruNarc

    TruNarc can immediately identify illegal drugs and could revolutionize how narcotics cases are investigated and prosecuted. The hand held laser device will help officers quickly discern illicit substances at a time when police are seeing a surge in new, harder-to-identify designer drugs such as the psychoactive powders known as "bath salts."
  • New York City Impletments DAS

    The Domain Awareness System, a next-generation situational awareness platform, is New York City’s attempt to build a truly one-stop shop for crime and counterterrorism data that’s accessible in real time to New York Police Department officers and other law enforcement personnel.
  • StarChase GPS Launcher

    StarChase, allows officers to deploy a device similar to a dart from the front of their cars. The device sticks to the back of the vehicle police are pursuing and helps track the suspect without the use of a high speed chase.
  • Period: to

    Computer-Assisted Dispatching System

    In the St. Louis police department, the first computer-assisted dispatching system is installed.
  • Period: to

    Crowd Control

    In the late 1960s, crowd and riot control was a main focus for law enforcement. They tried many different technologies in order to come up with one that successfully worked.
  • Period: to

    Night Vision Devices

    The National Institute of Justice funds the Newton, Massachusetts, Police Department in assessing the suitability of six models of night vision devices for law enforcement use. This lead to the widespread use of night vision gear in today's police agencies.
  • Period: to

    Sophisticated Computer Program

    New computers with sophisticated computer programs to map and analyze crime pattern are now commonly used in departments in New York, Chicago, and elsewhere.