In one of my earlier posts entitled Academia = Bureaucracy, I explored the possibility that; a propensity for academic achievement in police recruits is, a contributory factor to the bureaucratic burden within the service. Following on with the theme, Dave Lee of the BBC World Service discusses how society is being dumbed down by information technology…
BBC: How good software makes us stupid: …explained to Gareth Mitchell on BBC World Service’s Digital Planet that one study revealed concerns over technology. The key to making us concentrate, is perhaps to make tasks difficult – a theory which flies in the face of software designers the world over who constantly strive to make their programs easier to use than the competition. (Read full story)
The BBC article examined London taxi drivers as an example of the situation. Although the London cabbie still has to pass The Knowledge as with other driving occupations, there is also now a far greater reliance upon GPS based satellite navigation systems to reach a destination.
As the police service supposedly reflects our society shouldn’t it also follow; cops (especially those driving computers all day) will also be getting dumber, despite their certificates of academic achievement? By dumber I actually mean less practiced in reality, less able to grasp the concept of practicalities or manual dexterity and much less able to think through any ‘hands on’ process or action.
I wouldn’t suggest for one moment that technology and ease of communication per se, are not required, nothing could be further from the truth. I (probably more than most) have always been a bit of a techno geek, both inside and outside of work. The major difference being, I have always questioned technology and asked; what can that do for me to make my job/task easier? I don’t blindly accept the latest wiz bang gizmo, simply because it is available. Unlike many senior police officers, the people who control (or waste) massive public budgets on the latest must have widget, and often justify that decision with an ‘Emporer’s New Clothes’ evaluation and procurement process!
Information technology and communications systems and tools are fundamental to modern-day effective and efficient policing. Something I would say however is, with an almost total reliance on computerised process and systems modeling utilised by many managers, doesn’t that contribute to their inability to see and understand practicalities? If you add the fact that, a large proportion senior police managers have very limited experience of practical policing, you should be able to see how this (like bureaucracy); presents major adverse impacts upon practical policing and frontline service delivery.
Dumber at the top or simply practically challenged?