Crime, Science, and Technology

J. W. Osterburg, J. F. Coates
1967 Science  
See page 991 of this issue of Science, for details about registration and hotel reservations for the AAAS Annual Meeting. The next decade may see the systematic application of science and technology as a dominant theme in law enforcement and the administration of criminal justice. Progress seems imminent on every front. The application of systems science, operations research, and contemporary economic techniques may restructure approaches and develop criteria to assess progress and guide the
more » ... ss and guide the efficient organization and effective study of the criminal justice system. On the more technological level, new opportunities are increasing for the prevention and detection of crime and the apprehension, correction, and rehabilitation of the criminal. Technology applicable to police operations (especially computers, communications, transportation, and nonlethal weapons) is creating major opportunities for increased efficiency and effectiveness in day-to-day law enforcement. The concern over mass violence is newly emphasizing the need for broader social action in regulating antisocial activity. The five-part program in six sessions on the expanding role of science and technology in the war on crime is planned for 27-29 December 1967 as a General Symposium of the AAAS Annual Meeting in New York City. Scientific crime detection is one of the oldest and most firmly established applications of science to law enforcement. But this field is by no means stagnant. The older technology will continue to find useful applications and new methods are continually expanding the capabilities of the crime laboratory. The old and new, for example, when combined in microscopy and microprobe chemical analysis, allow exquisitely sensitive identification of a limitless variety of materials. Recent developments in the law are increasing demands for technical, especially quantitative, evidence. While technology can 24 NOVEMBER 1967 meet the demand, substantial problems in training, support, organization, and administration of forensic laboratories are unresolved. Possible solutions include the establishment of regional laboratories to serve several communities. The role of scientific crime detection in law enforcement illustrates the interaction of technology with politics, public administration, and education. The pathologist has unique problems. While homicides are likely to remain a most important aspect of his activity, the demands for quantification of data are not easily met. The handling of the case material and its interpretation and presentation to the user, that is, police or the court, again illustrates the interactions among investigators, data, experimental evidence, individual variation, circumstance, and investigative system.
doi:10.1126/science.158.3804.1079 pmid:6058350 fatcat:oblbnxbthjb3jhrkpkgwtr6p5e