nyc police

New York City police are starting to get more tech savvy. Recently, the NYPD created a task force to stop the theft of iOS devices and created a strict social media policy for cops.

Now the NYPD is taking another step toward tech relevancy by distributing customized Android phones to police officers, the New York Times reports. These phones can’t make or receive calls, but they can access criminal records and all sorts of other data, including people with open warrants, arrest records, apartments with high incident reports, registered gun owners, DMV records, and criminal mug shots.

Having access to police records on the go can help officers make better decisions when they are patrolling and can help them identify suspects easier. Officer Tom Donaldson, for example, sometimes canvasses the Lincoln Houses on Park Avenue and uses records on his phone to decide where he should be strolling.

“You can see that in this one 14-story building there are thousands and thousands of records,” Officer Donaldson told the Times. “If I see that in the last month, there have been six arrests on the seventh floor for drug trafficking, maybe I want to hang out on the seventh floor for a while.”

Starting with a rollout last summer, about 400 of these phones have been given to police officers to date. The phones are much easier to use than the laptops that are installed in 2,500 patrol cars around the city. Internet access on these laptops can be sluggish, and officers have to use multiple passwords to access different databases. Plus, the phones are usually more helpful than talking with a dispatcher.

“Our dispatcher will tell us if they have a warrant or not but it’s a simple yes or no answer,” said Officer Donaldson said. “I don’t know if the guy is wanted for murder or for not paying a parking summons. We rarely know. Now we know.”

NYPD image via Dave Hosford/Flickr