Monday, January 9, 2012

iPhones And iPads Are Changing The Way Police Work

There's a marketing piece over at about how the Redlands, CA Police Department is using iPads and iPhones to make their officers more efficient in the field. While it is a marketing piece from Apple, it's interesting enough to be worth a look.

Whether on foot, on a bicycle, in a patrol car, or on a Segway in the downtown district, Redlands police officers use iPhone and iPad to access, send, and receive the rich stream of data they need to keep tabs on potential issues. “It allows them to look at satellite maps, access the Internet, send emails, and take photos of victims or potential suspects.” Bueermann says.

“Having all this information at your fingertips and being able to share it instantaneously with other officers in the field is invaluable,” Catren agrees. “We have had many cases where officers have been able to quickly identify perpetrators, or transfer video that's led to the capture of suspects.”

We're seeing quite a number of iPads, iPhones and other similar devices at my agency. Most of them are personally owned devices, but even so they are changing the way officers work. It's not uncommon for officers to email or text suspect pictures to one another, or to view emails and BOLO's in the field.

How is your agency integrating this kind of technology into it's operations? Are your officers encouraged or discouraged from experimenting with these types of devices?

Thanks to the News Room for the heads up.


  1. We're not a very technology-forward agency, but do have internet available in the cars for searching jail photos and such. One thing the IT Dept. has warned us about regarding using personal devices for work is a concern about disclosure. Not sure if this is an issue in other states or whether the ability to send and receive information quickly is worth the risk. We haven't had anyone's personal device subpoenaed that I know of, and I wonder if other agencies have?

  2. Hi, Mr. Dickson. I am currently taking a class that uses Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers. My professor has posed a question to our class (Should agencies only hire crime analysts who have served prior as a law enforcement officer?). While researching the question, I came across your article. It brings up an interesting angle to consider: the effect of modern technology on law enforcement. Since my professor encourages us to ask for professional opinions to support our responses, I was hoping you might briefly answer a few short questions I have relating to this bigger question. In this age of instant information, do you think it is possible to replace personal experience with on-the-job advice from more experienced crime analysts and the information readily available on the internet? Or is prior, personal law enforcement experience too critical?

  3. I work in a federal office and we have issued ipads for our supervisors and while most of us have a blackberry, I think we all have personal iphones which we prefer for the ease of use.

  4. Trina, It is possible to use your own device and still comply with subpoenas. When I use my iOS device on our Exchange server I set it up so that the data remains stored on the server and not on the device itself. I have yet to see a subpoena that required you to hand over the device and not just the records.

    Carrie, Prior law enforcement experience can be a plus but we all have to start somewhere. There are still entry level analyst positions. Also, during college there are opportunities for internships at some agencies.

    If it came down to hiring a person with prior experience or a newbie with some serious technical skills, the newbie just might win out. As a general rule, most crime analysts have not been sworn officers before. They are divergent career paths to a certain degree.

    Matton, I got tired of carrying two phones around, one personal one for work. So I ditched the work phone because it sucked. Also, I can use a personal device to make work calls but they frown on making personal calls on a work device.

  5. Thank you so much for your help!

  6. Carrie,
    You're welcome. If you have more questions or need to discuss this assignment further you can email me at

  7. Here at Austin Peay, our students are exploring uses of mobile tech as part of their classes. We just got approval to purchase iPads for all faculty in our department and a few iPods for students, who can otherwise BYOT. If any PDs would like assessments of certain technology or apps, please let me know. Carter Smith

  8. Thank you for the reply. If the issue comes up again, I'll mention that! I know the Chief was hoping to get rid of his second phone ... besides, the 4S (his personal phone) is cooler than the 4 (work-issued phone)!


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