Opinion

Embrace modern technology to curb crime

Embrace modern technology to curb crime
  • Technology will by no means make law enforcement processes perfect, but it will give the force the tailwind it so much needs in its work.
  • For example, those charged with criminal offences must be entered into a national database complete with their fingerprints and facial features.

Many Kenyans look askance at the police. They don’t trust the way they collect evidence.

This cynicism is not misplaced — there are mountains of evidence to support their stance. Unlike in the past, law enforcement now has access to novel tools to better its work.

Just last week, the CCTV footage at the Office of the Deputy President was instrumental in identifying those behind the Sh40 billion arms scam, including former Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa, who was charged with conspiracy to commit a felony, falsifying documents, and obtaining money by deception.

The video recording reportedly reveals a lot — the amount of time he and his accomplices spent at the DP’s office, the people they interacted with, and what they said.

If the footage lacks audio, lips-reading experts can help. This case offers a glimpse at how technology can fortify crime-prevention efforts and enhance evidence-collection.

DATABASE

In an era teeming with tech options, there is no reason why crooks should easily escape justice. These technologies should also help set free those erroneously convicted.

Furthermore, tech tools can help lift the pall of dishonesty and ineptitude over the police.

I have suggested before in this column that the police should digitise its critical information. For example, those charged with criminal offences must be entered into a national database complete with their fingerprints and facial features.

It is from this database that reports should be printed when an accused is processed for arraignment in court — not the handwritten, often indecipherable paper notes.

To deter anyone from tampering with evidence, strict procedures should be implemented to guide change of original information.

This database would be the first port of call when a person is arrested. Regardless of the location at which they are arrested, this database would be accessible and searchable to show any previous run-ins with the law.

COLLECTING EVIDENCE

There should be legal provisions on how to and when to expunge records if the affected person wishes to have them deleted.

Body cameras — another integral tech tool — should be a standard accessory on police uniforms. These body cameras can help to collect evidence and also deter errant police officers from engaging in illegal actions.

Such efforts may shore up confidence among the understandably cynical Kenyans.

Technology will by no means make law enforcement processes perfect, but it will give the force the tailwind it so much needs in its work.

Whether the police upgrade their systems with changing times or not, criminals do. They are becoming more tech-savvy in their stunts and adept at covering their tracks.

At nearly 60 years since independence, Kenya should not be floundering in the dark on mundane matters like evidence collection.

It is time to use novel tools to catch those who turn up their noses at the law.

Wambugu is an informatician. Email: Twitter: @samwambugu2