Mayor Bill de Blasio, the city’s District Attorney, and Police Commissioner Bratton held a press conference this morning to introduce a new pilot program for the NYPD. The initiative to have tablets with super crime fighting capabilities in the hands of NYPD officers will be “as fully implemented as possible by next year,” the Mayor said of the new technology that will enable “21st century policing.”
So the tablets (thankfully) don’t make NYPD officers into Robocops exactly, but they get pretty close. The NYPD’s Commissioner of Technology, Jessica Tisch, demonstrated the ways in which the new tablet “enhances officer safety, enhances efficiency, and effectiveness in the field.” When a 911 call goes through, the location pops up on a map, in addition to an overview of that address showing things like history of arrests at the building, warrants associated with the address, and history of 911 calls for shots fired. The tablet also enables cops to conduct a universal search of NYPD data, and pull up notifications for suspects wanted for homicide, and photos of missing persons. “We can get that info out in real time,” Tisch explained.
If you’re not the biggest fan of #myNYPD then consider that, at least according to crime fighting troika that stood before us this morning, the technology will probably help lower the overall number of arrests. Rather than cops arresting suspects until they can get more information, only to find out the suspect didn’t need to be apprehended at all, cops will have access to most of that information right away. “There are a variety of situations where a summons is the best outcome,” de Blasio explained, and this technology will (hopefully) better enable cops to make a more informed decision on the spot.
Best case scenario, the tablets might actually help alleviate police harassment in the absence of probable cause. “It’s a relationship building tool for us also,” the Commissioner said. “Our cops can [hold up the tablets and] say, ‘Here’s why I got the call.”
It’s likely Bratton’s statement is in line with this whole image campaign the cops have been tootin’ lately, but there’s a smidgen of hope people who feel they are being unfairly approached by the police might have some redress by pulling a “show me your tablet.” But let’s not think about how unlikely it would be for a cop to grant such a request. Sigh.
The real benefit of the technology, the NYPD says, is enabling cops to get out of the office and on to the streets. “I want to stress that everything you can do from this tablet, officers can already do from their desks,” Tisch explained. “There’s no access to any new information, but now they’re able to access it from the field.”
Here’s to hoping the technology will enable fairer policing rather than enhancing the NYPD’s ability to royally F up. But if nothing else, we can look forward to the flood of high quality NYPD cop selfies coming our way.