One of the New York City Police Department’s most-used item since the 1800s is the handwritten memo book activity log. Now a new NYPD iPhone app is replacing it.
The memo book may be the department’s oldest policing tool, one that has appeared in countless movies and television shows and become as much of a staple as the gun, handcuffs or the nightstick. But they are about to become a thing of the past.
The department is retiring handwritten memo books by Feb. 17 in a transition to a digital version — an app on officers’ department-issued iPhones. Instead of making entries by hand, whether with flowery script from ink-dipped pens in Victorian-era New York or ballpoints today, officers will type in their notes, which the app will send to a department database… Now the department, not the officer, will keep that information. Officers and department officials may search entries — those made since the transition, anyway — by date or keyword, instead of rummaging for old memo books stored in lockers.
Since the department began issuing smartphones in 2015, some 37,000 iPhones are now in use, he said, adding that the phones give officers the ability do quick searches themselves of department databases, instead of waiting for busy radio dispatchers to relay information. The app, which the department developed and tested with input from its officers, has fields for officers to enter details about their patrol shifts, their police vehicles, 911 responses and other information, including photos.
MacDailyNews Take: This new NYPD iPhone app will obviously be a major improvement as the data will be legible and readily accessible whenever it’s needed, plus it will prevent abuse. As Kilgannon reports, “Frank Serpico, the former police detective who helped expose corruption decades ago, called memo books ineffective monitors of officers because ‘no cop is going to put anything in his memo book to incriminate himself.’ But the new system, Mr. Serpico said, could prevent old abuses, like officers leaving open space in their books to allow them to add entries retroactively. ‘Guys used to leave blank pages so they could go back and add observations just to get a judge to give them a search warrant on someone,’ he recalled in a phone interview.”