07 Mar, 2017

Right to Know: Improving Police Accountability with Driver Behavior Monitoring

Can GPS help hold police accountable?
07 Mar, 2017

In the United States, police accountability has become the subject of serious discussion and debate. The public has begun calling for increased visibility of officers in the field—a call which has been met with several suggested tech-based solutions. Foremost among these suggestions is driver behavior monitoring, which relies on a sophisticated system of GPS trackers and video monitoring equipment to record police behavior.

In order to expand the ability to monitor police officers on the job, police departments have long used dashboard camera systems. More recently, there has been public demand for the use of body cameras to become standard procedure. With the prevalence of recent news stories relating accounts of excessive or unwarranted police force, police departments may do well to explore all potential means of greater transparency and legitimate accountability.

Cost Effectiveness

Dashboard cameras are expensive, as are body cams. Between the cost of hardware, installation, and footage review, each body or dash camera system can add up to a significant chunk of a department’s budget. If such systems cannot be implemented due to cost, GPS vehicle tracking and driver behavior monitoring provide a much more cost-effective alternative.

Ease of Use

High schoolers can use GPS monitoring technology to track the whereabouts of their friends. Parents use it to keep tabs on their children. Auto insurance companies use it to monitor driving habits so as to be able to offer discounts to customers. It can even be used to locate wandering pets. Reading and interpreting the data produced by these GPS tracking systems is extremely simple. This ease of use presents a major selling point for its implementation in police departments.

Inherent Integrity

Video, even in the form of digital video files, can be tampered with to produce misleading images. GPS data can be used to reinforce, verify, or disprove video data, giving the public an extra layer of assurance that what they’re seeing is truthful. GPS data is simple, straightforward, and difficult to falsify. If the installation of the GPS hardware or software in police vehicles is done appropriately, the likelihood of successful tampering drops significantly.

GPS technology could clearly be useful in elevating police accountability and providing corroborating evidence of officers’ claims regarding their whereabouts when they are accused of wrongdoing in specific locations at specific times. GPS driver behavior monitoring is cost-effective, easy to use, readily available, and produces data that is difficult to manipulate.