To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

Seeking tools for the war on terror: A critical assessment of emerging technologies in law enforcement

Samuel Nunn (School of Public and Environmental Affairs, and Center for Urban Policy and the Environment, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 1 September 2003


As the war on terrorism escalates, police agencies are using technologies that electronically scan individuals, structures, and vehicles to identify things hidden from public scrutiny. These machines create new socio‐technical systems for police and citizens. Public policy gaps evolve when new systems give police sensory capabilities that fall outside existing procedural standards such as probable cause and reasonable suspicion. Mobile digital terminals are now common, but are also abused by police officers who run queries on vehicles without articulate suspicions. New technologies such as passive millimeter imaging that permit “X‐ray”‐like examination of individuals and structures create more potential for abuse. As these new technologies diffuse among police agencies, policies should be guided by questions about whether technologies work as designed, whether they are effective, and whether they accomplish anti‐terrorist and crime control objectives. Traditional rules for wiretapping can offer models for operating policies for the new scanning and imaging technologies.



Nunn, S. (2003), "Seeking tools for the war on terror: A critical assessment of emerging technologies in law enforcement", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 26 No. 3, pp. 454-472.




Copyright © 2003, MCB UP Limited