by Ian D Scofield
Departments from around the world have started arming their officers with their own department-issued cell phones. Some phones are only designed to be used as standard cell phones while others work like pagers and some even have access to reporting software. Issuing out cell phones might be one of the best new tools on an officer’s belt. Let’s examine the benefits of department issue cell phones.
Almost all departments use email in order to transmit non-emergent information such as new policies, things to look out for, and new opportunities. A department issue cell phone allows officers to check their emails on the go should there be a need to look at an email. It also ensures that officers can get their emails quickly.
For departments that don’t have computers in their car, it also gives officers the ability to check email without going to the station. Officers with take home cars that can go in service in the field would not have to go to the station to get the lowdown.
Have you ever had a situation where you wanted to call a witness, subject, or victim while in the field to get details on a call? Without a department issue cell phone the dispatcher will have to make the call for you or you will have to go back to the barn in order to make the call.
Using your personal phone in this kind of situation should not be done. Not only are you at risk to someone having your personal number but you might be violating department policy or your cell phone plan.
If you come across a stranded motorist you might need to call a tow truck or AAA. With a duty phone, you don’t have to worry about using your own phone. Or even having to have your own phone on you. Should you need to, you can let the citizen use your phone to call a family member or someone else to provide a ride.
In the modern age, a cell phone camera is almost as good, if not as good, as most professional cameras. A department issued phone can be quickly used to catch photographic evidence or to take photos of issues in the field. While the cell phone will never replace a crime scene camera, it allows you to capture photos in the moment. If evidence is at risk of being destroyed (such as by the weather) having a photo from a phone is often better than having no photo.
One of the reasons that smart phones have caught on is that you can do almost anything with them. All of the apps on the market allow you to use your phone as just about anything. Officers can use department approved apps on their phone in order to be able to do more in the field. If your department uses remote computer software such as the Horizon Viewer you can log into your computer from your department phone.
Some dispatching software suites have apps that allow you to access information from your phone. Many departments prefer that this software only be downloaded on department issued devices to preserve integrity. With the power of a dispatching app you can do everything from access call notes to get case numbers.
Buying cell phones for all of your officers can be an expensive task, especially if you go with the most recent models of phones. But you already buy your officers expensive tools such as their firearms, tasers, body cams, and more. The phone is just another tool like all of those others.
The number of downsides that come with issuing phones to your officers are minimal. Most of them can be counteracted. A good example of that is to use an app that restricts downloads and unapproved uses. My department has such an app on the phone to help keep it secure. NYPD and Bellevue Police Department (WA) are just two examples of departments arming their officers with phones. Will your department be next?
About The Author:
Ian is a staff writer at APTI and hospital security officer at a major medical center who has a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice with a Specialization in Administration of Justice. He has held multiple positions in the security industry from patrol supervisor to auxiliary public safety officer. At APTI he brings his writing skills to help further the careers of others and provide quality content. Feel free to visit his freelancing site or his creative writing site.
Did you just get a job as a law enforcement officer or are you trying to get one?
Law enforcement is a very rewarding career, one that can enhance your life and benefit you greatly. Preparing for a job in law enforcement shares some similarities to other careers. At the same time it has unique challenges to overcome.
Let’s take a moment to examine how you can prepare for a job as a law enforcement officer.