AUTONOMOUS POLICE VEHICLES: THE IMPACT ON LAW ENFORCEMENT
Simeral, Robert L.
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The rapid deployment of autonomous vehicle (AV) technology will undoubtedly have a significant impact on public safety services, including law enforcement agencies. Law enforcement can embrace AV technology, with the advent of autonomous police vehicles (APVs). The APV is designed with standard AV technology but is also packaged with complementary technologies, including an integrated unmanned aircraft system (UAS), facial recognition, thermal imaging, automated license plate readers, and gunshot detection systems. The anticipated benefits and unintended consequences of emerging technologies, such as the APV, are not always assessed by law enforcement. Thus, the goal of this thesis was to determine the likely impacts on law enforcement of the deployment of the APV. This thesis examined emerging AV technologies and complementary technologies, and analyzed plausible future scenarios to lend insight to public safety executives on the changing roles, mission, and tasks law enforcement officers may encounter. This thesis determined that the APV benefits to law enforcement, such as improving officer efficiency and officer safety likely outweigh the trepidations. This thesis recommends that law enforcement agencies should find a void to fill when the APV becomes realized. This void may only present itself once the APV is in service and fully functional; thus, law enforcement agencies should be mindful of this possible void in order to pivot for sustained future success.
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