NYPD Replacing Handwritten Activity Logs With iPhone App

Using the memo book on patrol has been required for more than a century

NYPD Replacing Handwritten Activity Log With iPhone App
An NYPD officer uses her phone.

For the past 100 years, officers on patrol for the New York City Police Department have been required to track and record everything from arrests they make to when they take lunch in a handwritten memo book.

A staple of the NYPD just like handcuffs and nightsticks, the handwritten activity logs are being replaced later this month with digital versions that officers will update via an app in their department-issued iPhones.

Starting February 17, more than 30,000 officers will start typing their notes into their phones so the app can send them to a department database.

Proponents of the switch within the NYPD contend the transition will prevent the possibility of faking entries and reviewers having to sort through indecipherable handwriting, according to The New York Times.

By having digital copies of patrolling officers’ notes, the department also frees itself up from having to worry about physical copies of the notes being lost or ruined, which is problematic when the handwritten memos are needed as evidence in criminal, civil and departmental trials.

Searchable by date or keyword, the new database will be a source of valuable crime-fighting data, Deputy Chief Anthony Tasso, commanding officer of the department’s Information Technology Bureau, told the Times. 

“It gives us the abilities we did not have before, when memo books were left in officers’ lockers and we didn’t have access to a vast amount of information,” Chief Tasso said.

Opponents of the switch worry it will lead to even more aggressive scrutinization of officers’ whereabouts and actions.

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