1. LadyVW's Avatar
    Baltimore police to get Blackberries | Washington Examiner

    Baltimore police to get Blackberries
    Associated Press
    09/02/09 5:45 PM EDT

    BALTIMORE Baltimore's police department will become one of the first agencies in the nation to issue every patrol officer a BlackBerry that allows for instant warrant checks, city officials said Wednesday.

    The city's Board of Estimates approved using $5.3 million in federal stimulus money for the police department, including $3.5 million to buy 2,000 of the BlackBerries, known as "Pocket Cops."

    The devices allow officers to run warrants, check vehicle registrations, and pull up criminal histories and suspect photos. Officers who use them can be more efficient and spend more time outside of their cars, Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III said.

    "In the last 15 years in domestic law enforcement, we've trained cops around their vehicle. We've made their vehicle their mobile office. Except that now, they don't leave the office," Bealefeld said. "This Pocket Cop will help move them away from that car and break that tether."

    Bealefeld has urged his officers to repair relationships with residents of the city's poorest and most dangerous neighborhoods, who are often reluctant to cooperate with police. Baltimore has an entrenched illegal drug trade and remains one of the nation's most violent big cities despite a 20-year low in homicides last year.

    The department has been using more than 100 of the devices in a pilot program in the city's western district and in specialized units. The 2,000 additional devices should be enough to equip every regular patrol officer with one, police said. There are more than 3,000 officers in the department.

    Early reviews for the devices have been positive. Officers using Pocket Cops made twice as many arrests over a 3-month period than those equipped with radios or laptops, according to statistics provided by the department. They also hauled in more offenders on outstanding warrants.

    The ability to pull up photos of wanted individuals has been particularly useful, said Sgt. Shawn Edwards of the department's Violent Crime Impact Division. Officers don't have to call dispatchers for suspect descriptions, and if a suspect gives a false name, the device can confirm quickly that he's lying.

    "In several instances, it's been great with just identifying people," Edwards said.

    The devices could also save the city money. It costs about $1,700 to purchase a BlackBerry with a year's service plan, compared with $7,800 to install a laptop computer and software in a police car, city officials said.

    BlackBerries are likely to take the place of computers for officers who don't have them in their cars, and laptops may not be replaced after they become obsolete, Bealefeld said.

    The devices are also equipped with global positioning software that will allow commanders to pinpoint exactly where officers are. That technology concerns police union leaders, who suspect that officers might face undue scrutiny.

    "Let's use it for what you say you're going to use it for, which is to enhance their job performance not to track where they're going to be so you can scold them a week or two later," said Detective Robert F. Cherry Jr., president of the city's Fraternal Order of Police lodge.
    09-02-09 10:43 PM
  2. UnityDivides's Avatar
    Huh. Well, I know what police department's gang task force I'm going to be joining when I finish my master's.
    09-02-09 11:28 PM
  3. CatAlex's Avatar
    Right on. It's a great idea and I'm honestly surprised that no one thought to do this sooner.

    Posted from my CrackBerry at wapforums.crackberry.com
    09-02-09 11:38 PM
  4. John Yester's Avatar

    I am seeing in my area more and more PD and fire and EMS people getting there companies on board with Blackberry
    09-02-09 11:45 PM
  5. fabuloso's Avatar
    This is great news! I would love to see one in action...

    Posted from my CrackBerry at wapforums.crackberry.com
    09-03-09 12:20 AM
  6. uli2000's Avatar
    How many will McNulty throw and lose while drunk on a stakeout?
    09-03-09 01:19 AM