Even though the RCMP is looking to expand its fleet of surveillance drones, you would think front-line Canadian police officers would look at badge-wearing counterparts around the world with a bit of tech-envy.
But that's not the case, says Tom Stamatakis, president of the Canadian Police Association (CPA).
In India, traffic officers are experimenting with iPhone-sized devices to call up the history of motorists and vehicles.
Down-under, the Australian Federal Police is apparently looking to develop a facial recognition databank of people — some who may not know they've been photographed.
And many American crime-fighting departments have long boasted some of the world's best gizmos for tracking suspects — including hand-held biometric scanners that use facial and iris recognition.
The Brookings Institute, a Washington think-tank, has found the Pentagon spent almost $3-billion in five years to develop biometric technology — marvels that in the near future could include a fingerprint scanner that can work from across a room and a system that picks up a heartbeat from behind a wall.
But CPA head Stamatakis says limiting the speed of emerging technology among Canadian police departments makes sense not only because of the overall costs, but because each tool has to stand up in court as well as privacy watchdogs.
And it's not just the price tag on the gadget, but the costs of time and training.
While some large Canadian police services are investing in new technology — such as automated licence plate-scanning cameras — it's difficult to know when a tool is more than just evolving.
"You have to feel comfortable that if you spend money today that it's going to be good (for some time)," says Stamatakis, adding police are now more concerned about keeping science that's been proven, such as forensic labs, up to speed and well funded.