Math Career in Law Enforcement

MathCareer in Law Enforcement

Mathematicshas been one of the most fundamental subjects in the contemporaryhuman society. Indeed, it is always the case that a large number ofeducation systems and even the society at large encourage students toexcel in math among other subjects such as sciences. This stems fromthe well founded belief that any particular aspect an individual’slife necessitates some knowledge of arithmetic, algebra and otherconcepts pertaining to mathematics. This, however, does not negate orundermine the perceived difficulty in mathematics and all that itpertains. Indeed, a large number of individuals seek out careers thatthey feel would involve the least amount of mathematics. More oftenthan not, it is assumed that mathematics is only applied to specificcareers such as engineering, or similar jobs. Nevertheless,considering that at the very basic, mathematics would still be usedin the daily lives of individuals for things such as counting money,or making calculations pertaining to time, it goes without sayingthat there is absolutely no way mathematics can be separated from anyfacet of the contemporary human society. As stated, however, somecareers are assumed to have little usage of mathematics particularlyin cases where they belong to the social sciences. This is the casefor law enforcement, which broadly underlines any system though whichindividuals in a particular society act in an organized way so as toenforce the law through the discovery, deterrence, rehabilitation andthe punishment of individuals that have acted in violation of thenorms and rules by which the society is governed. While it is notoften thought to be the case, it is evident that mathematics is quitewidely used in the maintenance of law and order or rather lawenforcement.

First,mathematics has been used in obtaining evidence in writing as carriedout by forgery detectives. In instances where a detective attempts tofigure out if a particular collection of papers was written orcomposed by the same individual, it is common for him or her to studyor analyze the samples pertaining to the handwriting on the papers.It is well acknowledged that the handwriting of an individual couldbe as unique and distinctive as his fingerprints (Boba 44). Forgerytakes place in instances where an individual signs the name ofanother person to a document such as a legal paper, credit card slipor check. Such a crime would necessitate handwriting analysis, whichwould not only detect the forgery but would also be useful infiguring out who may have written the document. This would involvemeasuring the space that is left between words and letters, as wellas the size of the letters and the differences in the manner in whichthe letters are linked together (Arroyo43). These features would be helpful to detectives in figuring outwhether the documents were forged or whether they were from the sameindividual. This comes in handy particularly in the determination ofthe authenticity of a particular painting. More often than not,paintings made by famous artists are copied, with the copycats tryingto make some money from the same. Detectives may use variedtechniques in determined the authenticity of the painting, andespecially through the use of mathematical signature of the artist.They would have the painting scanned digitally and then divided intosmaller sections, each of which is 2 inches long (Arroyo43). They would then use the mathematical signature of the artist,which includes measurements such as the length of the brush strokesand even their number, which would then be compared to the originalpaintings of the artist.

Inaddition, mathematicians would fit in the law enforcement ascryptographers. These professionals use knowledge pertaining tomathematics and make use of computers in cracking codes, as well aslearning of deciphering the meaning of secret messages. More oftenthan not, criminals, both local and international use codes, whosemeaning the only know so as to communicate with each other. Thisparticularly occurs in the case of spies, in which case lawenforcement agencies need to crack the codes and decipher themeanings so as to solve or avert the possibility of a crime (LordenandKeith59). Such activities necessitate the services of cryptographers.These professionals also undertake the creation of codes which may beused by government officials and law enforcement agencies so as toensure that any confidential messages being passed would not berevealed to unauthorized parties. In breaking the codes, thecryptographers would attempt to determine the system that was used inthe creation of the message (Arroyo49). Of particular note is the fact that codes can entail the use ofletters of the alphabet alone, numbers, or even have the two blendedtogether. In some cases, the coded message is a series of numberswith each of them representing certain letters of the alphabet. Oncecryptographers decipher or figure out the letters that the numbersrepresent, they would have the capacity to read the message, therebypreventing or solving crimes (Santos 38).

Moreover,mathematics comes in handy in the case of crime scene investigatorsor even traffic policemen. In instances where crimes occur,investigators would visit the scene and carefully evaluate it. Theywould then determine the professionals who should be called into thearea including experts in foot prints, finger prints, handwriting andtire tracks. They then come up with plans regarding the collectionand recording of evidence in the scene of crime. The drawing orsketching of the crime scene would clearly record what theinvestigator sees prior to having anything touched or moved (LordenandKeith63). Graph papers would be used in drawing the scene’s outerperimeter, after which the components that are within the perimeterwould be added. In such cases, it would be imperative that theinvestigator measures the distance between the objects. In the caseof shoeprints, they can be used in estimating the height of theindividual who made it or even the weight. Investigators wouldmeasure the depth and length of the shoeprint, as well as how farapart the impressions are (LordenandKeith67). Shorter individuals usually have shorter strides and shoeprints,while weighty individuals will have deeper impressions. Suchinformation would be quite useful in the profiling of possiblesuspects in a particular crime, or even eliminating others in thelist. In the case of traffic policemen, determining whether anindividual was over-speeding requires mathematics. This comes inhandy in highways that have toll stations, where the law-enforcementagencies will give drivers a ticket at one point and take it back atanother point, then calculate the time taken between the two pointsso as to determine the speed at which the individual was driving(Santos 44).

Inconclusion, the importance of mathematics in the day to day lifecannot be understated. It is, in fact, extremely difficult to thinkof any particular facet of individuals’ lives in both thecontemporary and conventional society that would not necessitate somecalculations or some mathematical knowledge. Nevertheless,mathematics is often thought of as overly difficult, in which casepeople opt for areas or careers that do not involve much of it.Nevertheless, there exists no career that would be clear or devoid ofmathematics or that would not necessitate some mathematicalknowledge. This is even in instances where the career falls undersocial sciences, as is the case for law enforcement. There arenumerous careers within the law enforcement agencies that wouldrequire mathematical knowledge, perhaps in a deeper way than in othercareers. This may include cryptography, crime scene investigators,traffic police officers and even forgery detectives. More often thannot, such careers would involve calculating, measuring, combiningnumbers, establishing the series, or even determining the distinctivepatterns of the object in question. This should not undermine thesimplicity of these tasks or even the level of expertise that isneeded in the same. Further, there are numerous other careers withinthe law enforcement that would also necessitate the use ofmathematics. For instance, financial investigators may examinedocuments such as sales, profits and stocks, wealth of individualsand other elements through the use of incomplete documents so as todetermine the amounts of losses in arson fires or even in cases ofburglaries. Similarly, they would have to use mathematical knowledgeto analyze the documents presented to them in an effort to determinethe culpability of individuals that are suspected of fraud orbenefiting from robberies. Indeed, there have been instances wherelaw enforcement officers are forced to make calculations pertainingto the finances of an individual and match them up with the insurancerecords so as to determine or follow money trails and ascertainwhether an individual may have participated in the planning andexecution of a crime such as a murder or arson so as to benefit frominsurance money. Similar cases come up in the case of speeding inhighways. It is not always the case that patrol officers would followan individual so as to determine whether or not they are speeding,rather they may simply calculate the speed that he or she istraveling at and determine whether it is above what is recommendedfor a particular area. In the contemporary society, the utilizationof computers and other gadgets has become considerably common acrossthe globe. Unfortunately, criminals have not been left behind as faras the use of the same to communicate and organize criminalactivities is concerned. More often than not, their communicationswill be hidden or encrypted, with the messages being coded so as toeliminate the possibility of detection by the law enforcementagencies. Essentially, it becomes imperative that mathematics is usedto crack the codes and allow for the detection of crimes earlyenough. Of particular note is the fact that scientific ormathematical evidence is usually considered as more crucial in courtsof law and, therefore, can be used in ensuring conviction ofcriminals.


Arroyo,Sheri L.&nbspHowCrime Fighters Use Math.New York: Infobase Pub, 2009. Print

Lorden,Gary, and Keith Devlin.&nbspTheNumbers Behind Numb3rs: Solving Crime with Mathematics.New York: Plume, 2014. Print

Boba,Rachel.&nbspCrimeAnalysis and Crime Mapping.Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2006. Print.

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Santos,Rachel B.&nbspCrimeAnalysis with Crime Mapping.Thousand Oaks, Calif: SAGE, 2013. Print.

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