AP reports that Baltimore is getting a BlackBerry for every one of its patrol officers, spending $3.5 million for 2000 BlackBerries. The idea behind these “Pocket Cops” is to help the officers pull up outstanding warrant and other information on suspects even outside the patrol car. The Baltimore Police Department ran a pilot program with 100 such devices and found them to be very useful:
Early reviews for the devices have been positive. Officers using Pocket Cops made twice as many arrests over a 3-month period than those equipped with radios or laptops, according to statistics provided by the department. They also hauled in more offenders on outstanding warrants.
The ability to pull up photos of wanted individuals has been particularly useful, said Sgt. Shawn Edwards of the department’s Violent Crime Impact Division. Officers don’t have to call dispatchers for suspect descriptions, and if a suspect gives a false name, the device can confirm quickly that he’s lying.
This is one of the first such instances of BlackBerry usage…where an entire police department is switching to it, and actually preferring it over laptops. Would be interesting to see if it picks up elsewhere as well. From the US President, to Wall Street, to now the cops as well – all seem to prefer the BlackBerry…wondering where is the iPhone in all this despite having a stronger application development platform, or is that a myth ? What do you think ?