Why law enforcement continues to be reactive rather than predictive

First of all, my dad worked 37 years in Indian Federal Law Enforcement so this is not a song to the heroes ( no heroes, they are doing a job they chose to do) or a left wing critique (it IS a demanding job). As with most of my writing I will try (and succeed a bit and fail a bit) in being objective.

  1. Law enforcement here means cops, police officers, first responders, peace officers. It does not included detectives, federal agencies and military based intelligence.
  2. It means people who try to deter crime or terrorism by either reacting fast, being present there in force or anticipating where crime or attacks are likely to happen
  3. It is usually a shift based system, involving employees who are lesser skilled than other agencies
  4. A rotation system involving other agencies would help with both coordination and up skills ( eg in some professional armies, the logistics people spend 3 years in infantry. Some policemen should spend time in federal agencies and vice versa as per rotation)
  5. Over investment in weapons ( hardware) , under investment in training (especially cross geography and cross agency) and up skilling (in the age of Internet, social media), and almost zero investment in formal analytics (spatial analytics, time series analytics, where is crime likely to happen, who or what is a significant factor, how effective have frisk-check-patrolling efforts been) means law enforcement and community relationships continue to be maligned in democracies like India, USA, France. In a non democracy, there  is no one to complain to and no one to complain of.
  6. In the national defense and homeland security budget the local law enforcement gets lower priority even though they remain the first line of defense in maximum harm

Gandhi said that for evil to flourish the only thing that needs to happen is for good men to do nothing. Law enforcement in democracies critically needs investment in cyber science and  data science to restore community relationships.


Author: Ajay Ohri


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