Baltimore Police Department on their way to BlackBerry thumb

by Mike
Posted September 3rd, 2009 at 5:41 am


RIM’s little BlackBerry device has enjoyed an explosion in popularity the last 1-2 years thanks to aggressive model refreshes and marketing campaigns. Their push is paying off as the ever popular consumer market is literally eating up these plastic wrapped Berries like none other. A new force has joined club Berry and with their story, can and probably will inspire others like them to adapt a Berry thumb. That force in question is the Baltimore Police Department. The fine young and women on the Baltimore Police Department will join other police departments around the nation in becoming more mobile, more technologically advanced, and overall more productive. Are they really getting CrackBerries?

What started as a small pilot program of roughly 100 officers and city law enforcement employees has apparently pleased the higher ups as the city is setting aside $3.5 million to buy 2,000 more of the Canadian wonder devices. Dubbed “Pocket Cops”, management hopes to break the officers of the tether they have constructed between themselves and their cars, the old “mobile office”, by giving them an even new, more efficient mobile office.

The goal is to speed up arrests by helping officers get valuable and much needed information many times faster. Instead of having to call a dispatcher or fumble with their laptop (not quite sure how the Berry will be that much quicker than a laptop), they can instantly pull up information on the mobile device making their jobs more efficient and easier. The units and officers currently equipped with laptops may not get new units once the old ones are declared obsolete and will instead be equipped with the new company standard: The BlackBerry. One of the big points the management on the department listed was greatly reduced cost. Currently, each officer equipped with a laptop costs the city an extra $7,800 per year on hardware and software. Switch that officer to a BlackBerry and his yearly cost drops to roughly $1,700 for hardware and cellular service. Quite a savings indeed.

But of course, cost isn’t the only factor. WIth built in GPS, officers in trouble or unable to communicate their locations for backup can feel slightly more at ease that their friends in blue can find them quickly. Although, with the new addition of an even more convenient big brother means security and privacy are at risk. Detective Robert F. Cherry Jr., president of the city’s Fraternal Order of Police lodge already commented on the adoption of GPS onto even smaller more portable devices when he said:

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

The above is a grim reminder not to become to over zealous with our goals to “serve and protect” by misusing the technology placed before us. However, I have faith that the deployed BlackBerries will be a much bigger help instead of hinderance.

Naturally, the press, and especially the tech blogging community will completely pounce on this story building a case for RIM and highlighting their products — which by the way is great for RIM as they will receive tons of free press. As this story spreads, expect RIM’s market share to only go up as more and more people realize the power and efficiency BlackBerries can bring. My only question is exactly what applications they will be using to aid the officers. Several examples included pulling up ID photos, address, etc. Such things are more internet based and until that rumored webkit browser makes it’s way to BlackBerries, using the BB browser for anything is pure agony. Still, I have faith in the little devices and am interested to see how this big test project unfolds.

Stay tuned…

Source: Cellular-News

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2 ResponsesLeave a comment
  • gayle guilford mid director bpd
    September 12, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    BPD uses the pocket cop application from BIO-Key and the Field Force Manager GPS packages.

  • Robert Gowans
    September 3, 2009 at 9:22 am

    Interesting article. BlackBerry smartphones are likely a good choice for law enforcement. They’ve always been popular with corporations, partly due to centralized management and pretty good security features that have been tested in the field for years. However, they’ve also been popular in the past with law breakers due to unaudited PIN messaging. Lets hope that Baltimore Police have properly closed this particular loophole:

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