NYPD Aims to Transform Policing with Special Smart Phones Issued to All Officers

By next month all NYPD officers will have specialized smart phones. It's part of a strategy designed to transform policing, as NY1's Dean Meminger reports. 

The NYPD says its specially customized smart phones have been a major success in fighting crime.

"It is clear that these department smart phones represent the single largest transformation in emergency communications in over a half of century for sure," said Jessica Tisch, NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Information Technology.

More than 25,000 officers have the phones already, and within weeks all 36,000 cops will be carrying one.

Which are loaded with policing applications that place a world of access in the palm of their hands.

"The universal search app that provides enterprise search of all department databases and certain state and federal databases," Tisch said.

For example, 73rd precinct cops received alerts from the new high-tech shot-spotter system that eight shots had been fired near 409 Saratoga Avenue. When they searched the building's roof, they found bullet casings. Using their phones again, cops discovered a woman in the building had an outstanding arrest warrant. They got a search warrant over their phones for her apartment, where they found two guns, and made three arrests.   

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, who has been leading the push for new technology,  says there's a lot more coming.

"We've already begun to look at using Facetime and Skype on these devices so the officers may never need to have to go to traffic court or summonses court," Bratton said. "He'll be able to literally be called from court, go online engage in a dialogue face-to-face."

Police say on this past Monday alone cops looked at 2,000 wanted flyers, conducted 36,000 database searches and reviewed information about 29,000 911 calls on their phones.

There are concerns cops could spend too much time with their faces in the devices or perhaps use them while driving.

"There are some tactical issues and we push that out to everybody to make sure if you are together, one person looks at the phone and if you are by yourself you have to be careful how you use it," said NYPD Chief of Department James O'Neill.

The NYPD says the phones a major evolution from the walkie-talkies they began using in 1962.

Some officers also have portable fingerprint devices, no longer needing to bring people to stationhouses to determine their identities.

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