NYPD uses technology to tackle community issues


NEW YORK (AP) – A new smartphone app rolling out this week allows officers in the New York Community Policing program to record neighborhood issues such as graffiti, loud music and public drunkenness and to find out if they have been resolved.

The in-house app, the NYPD’s latest step towards digitizing communications within the department, enhances the most dispersed ways officers have kept tabs on community issues from shift to shift – namely , call, send SMS or send e-mails.

Information is now centralized and available around the clock for more agents and supervisors, meaning problems are less likely to slip through the cracks and agents on leave will not wake up to home if they forget to provide details on a particular topic. .

“What we have now is word of mouth – an email that you can send to different tours. It’s on their phone. It’s right there when they come in,” Inspector Carlos said. Ortiz, Commander of the Neighborhood Police Analysis and Support Unit.

The new app, which cost around $ 1.4 million for initial setup and $ 2.7 million per year for maintenance, is being piloted in upper Manhattan, and other parts of the city. will follow.

This is an internal, non-public system that allows officers and supervisors to access and complete a routine count of neighborhood issues and track progress towards their resolution.

The department aims to train 8,000 officers on the new app and will make it standard in its neighborhood policing program, which is designed to push officers off patrol cars and onto sidewalks.

Officers can view these problems, called conditions in police parlance, in a list or on a map. They can include things like reports of vandalism, buildings that need to be protected from parcel theft, abandoned or illegally parked cars, episodes of public intoxication, or homeless people sleeping on the streets.

Using the app, officers can document every step towards resolving a problem – for example, noting when garbage has been removed or graffiti cleaned up – including with photos and documents.

The app also has a space for agents to store contact information of community members and to register businesses and security cameras in their area, an important resource when agents are trying to find video footage. ‘an incident. Prior to application, officers can spend their entire eight-hour shift looking for cameras.

A chat function allows agents to communicate with each other via an internal component such as social media. Some officers said they are currently discussing community concerns in private WhatsApp groups.

“The application is not dependent on the report,” said Sergeant Sam Alamarie, of the Office of Research and Innovation. “What the app depends on is the data.”

The NYPD has relied heavily on smartphone technology in recent years, equipping agents with iPhones and last year, ditching traditional notebooks in favor of a specially designed note-taking app that powers the basics. departmental data.

The ministry’s data collection practices have also come under scrutiny in recent years, with some of its systems raising objections from civil liberties groups.

A city lawmaker introduced a bill last week calling for the elimination of the police department’s secret gang database, which critics say unfairly marks mostly black and Hispanic youth on the basis of fragile evidence.

Activists also opposed the department’s use of facial recognition technology and surveillance cameras.

A message requesting comment on the application has been left with the New York Civil Liberties Union.

The NYPD says its neighborhood policing app involves data the department is already keeping in other ways, including 911 calls and complaints filed in constituencies. The app has protections to preserve data that could be subpoenaed for a court case. Agents are barred from removing material, officials said.


Follow Michael Sisak on Twitter at twitter.com/mikesisak


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