Vegas Blue: Advanced Technology Does it Really Make Us Safer?

Do advances in communication hinder personal safety? Rambo

In the past, I’ve written articles regarding personal safety that have sparked debate. “Calling all Cars” led to a small disagreement over jaywalking and a spontaneous interview about child safety nearly led to a physical altercation between two moms. This topic will hopefully encourage discussion that’s insightful yet more peaceful. It’s about technology and its impact on personal safety.

When I was a patrol officer I refused to use GPS technology to find addresses. My concern was that if I relied on GPS products instead of using personal knowledge that I might not meet the obligations of my profession. I wanted to have every nook and cranny of my beat mapped out in my mind just in case the machine failed. Some would say, “they’re very useful, just get one that’s high quality.” I still refused, and was usually able to find addresses easily by becoming familiar with certain areas and utilizing my knowledge of cross streets and the “hundred block” system. I felt then and still do, that a machine can’t determine the best short cuts, or the best ways to intercept a fleeing offender. And no GPS unit will be able to advise me how to slowly creep towards possible crimes in progress avoiding detection, or the best direction to approach making an ambush difficult. I also felt it would distract my eyes from the road.

In “Calling all Cars” I also referred to T.W.D. (texting while driving) addressing the numerous times I’ve seen a cellular phone with an incomplete text in the vehicle of someone found at fault in traffic accidents. Months after that article was published, talk show icon Oprah Winfrey urged everyone to cease this act and provided a line-up of individuals whose T.W.D. had fatal consequences on her program. While operating a motor vehicle, advances in airbag technology, maneuverability, and impact absorbing materials make you safer. Communication leaps and bounds via cellular phone technology however, may place you in more danger. What irony. Despite this, I have mixed feelings on the subject of safety and technology.

I wonder what criminals think of technology

Most doctors would adamantly defend technology stating that by preventing health issues it increases personal safety. And they would have a good argument as technological advances in medicine have greatly extended my life. In 2007, doctors became seriously concerned regarding certain tests during my annual physicals urging me to take ultrasounds, computed tomography (CT scan), and ultimately a kidney biopsy. It was then that I found that for my entire life I’ve had “thin basement membrane nephropathy,” a form of kidney disease. I was assigned a dietitian by my Nephrologist (kidney doctor) and she outlined a plan that will allow me to live a relatively unaltered life. Without technological advances that led to such early detection, I would have continued with a lifestyle that would be fine for a normal person but potentially fatal for me. So my health and personal safety has been increased by modern medical practices. On the other hand, addictions to prescription medication may do the opposite for countless others.

I wonder what criminals think of technology. Computer predators and financial criminals may adore it while prowlers and car thieves probably detest it. So does it make us more safe? Or does it increase danger and make things more convenient for modern criminals? What do you think?


3 responses on “Vegas Blue: Advanced Technology Does it Really Make Us Safer?

  1. I can understand the argument for knowing a response area well and being able to keep a dynamic mapping image in your brain when on patrol. But on the other hand, I think that response times over-all have improved for both police and fire departments across the country because they are using this technology.

    Especially in a place like Las Vegas that adds new neighborhoods “almost overnight” or at least it seemed that way during the height of the real estate boom.


  2. Actually, continuing that thought — I wish the USFS had had such a system in place in 1974. On one notable fire, I was acting engineer on a brush fire near Los Angeles which I drove to by following smoke. It was out outside my area of normal responsibility — we had moved to this unknown district for the day for mutual aid — I was the first arriving fire unit on a fire that was expanding at 1000 acres per hour. I had NO IDEA where I was. I called dispatch and reported “unit on scene” but was unable to tell dispatch where exactly that was. To this day, this is one of my most embarrassing work moments of my career. With a GPS unit, I might have been able to report that I was “on the heel of this monster at the corner of rural road Y near I-5… and they had better send the world — because we were about to over-run by flames…”


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