October 24, 2014

Android isn't just fun and games, it also helps keep the streets safe

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officer phoneIf you have an Android, you know how amazing the platform really is. It beautifully syncs with Google services, the endless apps to choose from are great, and in the end the most important part is that it’s reliable. So reliable in fact, that New York began distributing Android smartphones to police officers to help assist in their duties.

The NY Police Department has distributed around 400 dedicated Android phones to its officers since last summer. The phones, which cannot make or receive calls, allow officers on patrol to look up a person’s criminal history, verify identification with access to computerized arrest files, police photographs, and state Department of Motor Vehicles databases. Officers also have access to the names of every person with an open warrant, arrest record or previous police summons, a prior domestic incident report, residents with orders of protection against them, registered gun owners, and the arrest photographs of every parolee in the area. The officers can even find video surveillance cameras that are near points of interest.

The phone application (details withheld for obvious reasons) being used is significantly different from the computers installed in patrol cars. With the laptops, the Internet connection can be slow and even nonexistent in some areas of the city, and officers have to log in to separate databases with multiple passwords to retrieve information. This takes time, and in some cases leads to missed information.

Donna Lieberman, the executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said though the new phone technology held “enormous promise to improve policing and public safety,” she had concerns. She is worried about “whether it will become a vehicle to round up the usual suspects, to harass people” based on information found in the police databases.

Could this be a good thing for our officers, or do you see it becoming a mishandled tool? In my own opinion, I think this could really help protect citizens and officers alike, and it is amazing to hear Android is the base for it all. Hopefully in the near future the distribution of Android smartphones will expand to other stations and with proper use will greatly influence communities in a positive manner. What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!

 

 

 

Source: The New York Times