Following the debacle that was the police response to protests in Ferguson, MO following evenings of protest and violence its refreshing for many to see cops with tablets rather than tanks. That response, rightfully, drew countless criticisms of the militarization of the police when photos of cops, “finger on trigger” pointing machine guns at protestors made it into the mainstream.
The NYPD announced today that it was going a considerably “softer on the eyes” route with the planned purchase of 6,000 shock-resistant tablet computers — called “tough pads” for squad cars and an additional 35,000 mobile devices for its officers’ persons.
NYPD Use the technology you have
“Something that was unimaginable a few years ago now will be an immediate tool in the hands of all of our officers,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “It means that anything going on, any alert, any up-to-date information can get to those who are protecting us anywhere in the city instantaneously.”
The department is planning to get the purchase out on the street in early 2015. The devices will have considerably more access to police databases than your iPhone is capable at present.
“This is really done to enhance officer safety and promote efficiency and effectiveness in the field,” said Jessica Tisch, the NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner for Information Technology.
Officers will be able to receive direct information about 911 calls as well as view real-time 911 data that includes past calls from the same location. Additionally, Amber Alerts and counter-terrorism information will be made available immediately as well as photos of missing persons.
“This is a capability that we never had before, obviously, in the field,” Ms. Tisch said. “This is something that officers would have to go back to the command to see.”
The future and data sharing
In the future, the department hopes to be able to add real time fingerprint scanning as well.
In theory, the data sharing will also help prosecutors and other law enforcement agencies get a better picture of just what happened at the scene that caused and officer to respond.
“By giving us more information, by giving the police more information, we’re able to make better, fairer judgements of cases at the inception of the case,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr.
While that may very well be the case, it’s sounds like throwing a bone to the civil rights organizations who will certainly start criticizing the plan soon.