NYC police implementing department wide rollout of mobile devices

Posted on Oct 30, 2014

As part of a modernization effort for one of the biggest police departments in the world, nearly all officers in New York City will be provided with smartphones, and the vast majority of the city's patrol cars will have tablet computers installed. The New York Times reported approximately 41,000 devices will be distributed in all as part of the NYPD Mobility Initiative, which aims to provide more modern tools for officers walking their beats and patrolling areas in their squad cars. In all, 35,000 smartphones will be distributed among officers in the city. Approximately 6,000 tablets with protective features in place to help combat daily wear and tear are being installed in police vehicles as well. While New York isn't the first department in the country to make an increased commitment to the increased use of technology in police work, it's certainly the largest.

The NYPD will add 6000 tablets to its patrol cars

Support from the top

Both the mayor's office and the Manhattan district attorney are supporting the measure, according to The Times. Mayor Bill de Blasio appeared at a press conference officially announcing the $160 million, three-year rollout of the project in late October. Training and distribution was set to begin soon after the announcement.

"We must have 21st-century tools to deal with 21st-century threats," Mayor de Blasio said in a statement to The Times, "and this infusion of new resources will arm our officers with the technology and information they need to fight crime and protect the city against terrorism more efficiently and more effectively."

Cutting-edge technology to improve outcomes

The ability to access up-to-date information instantly no matter the location of an officer was pointed to as a major benefit of the project, increasing the connectivity of officers out on patrol and better preparing them for situations they may encounter. CBS New York pointed out a unique functionality for the tablets being placed in patrol vehicles: They'll be able to directly relay 911 calls to officers in the vicinity and provide background information about the address associated with the emergency. Jessica Tisch, NYPD deputy commissioner for information and technology, said active warrants for an area, as well as previous reports of shots fired and similar incidents, will be immediately available through the tablets.

"This was a capability we never had in the field before," Tisch said to CBS New York. "This was something that officers would have to go back to the command to see."

Officers will also be able to scan and process fingerprints in the field, significantly reducing the time needed to identify a suspect and aiding in crime control efforts.

Money from a unique source

The Times said the $160 million for the NYPD Mobility Initiative is coming from fines paid by French bank BNP Paribas, which violated various U.S. financial sanctions. A total of more than $8 billion was paid to various entities in the U.S., with $448 million going to the city's district attorney's office and $447 million going to the city. These two groups are financing the program.

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