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Smartphones and Law Enforcement

NCJ Number
Date Published
National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center
This “Smartphones and Law Enforcement” article reviews how handheld devices that combine voice services with advanced computing ability are being used by law enforcement agencies.
Law enforcement agencies are finding sophisticated uses for smartphones, those handheld devices that combine voice services with advanced computing ability. Highlighted are considerations that departments need to be aware of before deciding to purchase smartphones for their officers: an agency will need to obtain certification for the project from the State National Crime Information Center (NCIC) agency so that it follows the security guidelines under FBI Criminal Justice Information Services oversight; battery life will probably need to be enhanced; memory will probably need to be enhanced to enable officers to take photos and videos during an investigation; involve the police union early in the process to ensure officers understand the purpose of the GPS application; test the geography to identify dead zones; identify which police units need the devices and which ones don’t; ensure the department has enough technical staff to manage the need to service the devices, and replace them and remotely wipe the devices clean of all data if they are lost or stolen; rewrite police department general orders to include guidelines on the use of the devices; and draft a user agreement so officers clearly understand their responsibilities.
Date Created: August 17, 2011