Become a MacRumors Supporter for $25/year with no ads, private forums, and more!

NYPD Abandons Paper Memo Books for New iPhone App

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
51,581
13,209



The New York City Police Department is retiring the handwritten memo books that it has used for more than a century and adopting a new iPhone app for note taking, according to a new report from The New York Times.

NYPD police officers use their memo books to capture details about arrests, 911 calls, patrol assignments, and more, but on February 17, the police department will transition to a digital app. Rather than writing out notes, officers will type their notes into the app, and the notes will then be sent to a department database.

Officers filling out memo books, image via The New York Times​

The shift will mark a major update to the way that case-related memos are handled, making them more accessible and ensuring information is not lost. Entries will not be able to be faked, and data won't be lost to poor handwriting.

Some of the memo books from the past have historical importance, such as the book Officer Shaun McGill kept as the first officer who arrived at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, and others have been used as key pieces of evidence in cases.

Officers used to keep their memo books long after retirement in case the information in them became necessary for a trial, but now the department will hold onto all of the information. Entries are also searchable by date or keyword, so there's no longer a need to look through multiple memo books for a specific passage.

Entries into the digital app include location information and time entered by officers, and the data is accessible in real time, which has raised some concerns about more oversight, but the entry process will be streamlined and the process will cut down on paper waste.

NYPD Deputy Chief Anthony Tasso told The New York Times that the digital system will allow for entries to be used as valuable crime fighting data. "It gives us the abilities we did not have before, when memo books were left in officers' lockers and we didn't have access to a vast amount of information," he said.

The NYPD has been providing officers with smartphones since 2015, and there are now 37,000 iPhones in use. More information on the NYPD's new app can be found in the full article from New York Times.

Article Link: NYPD Abandons Paper Memo Books for New iPhone App
 
Last edited:

jerryk

Contributor
Nov 3, 2011
6,558
3,502
SF Bay Area
Why? You can write and annotate quicker. Draw diagrams and arrows between text items, etc. And handwriting forces the brain to be more mentally engaged and think through details and their relationships. The last thing you want on a police report is stream of consciousness ramblings.
 
Comment

konqerror

macrumors 68020
Dec 31, 2013
2,298
3,693
Why? You can write and annotate quicker. Draw diagrams and arrows between text items, etc. And handwriting forces the brain to be more mentally engaged and think through details and their relationships. The last thing you want on a police report is stream of consciousness ramblings.

Police notebooks are not the same thing as a police report. And there's a specific format and style they have to be written in, since they will be used as evidence in a court of law. You can't go drawing arrows between text items.

A lot of this is due to real cases where notebooks have been altered or faked. That's why many other industries, like labs regulated by the FDA, have gone electronic.
 
Comment

spinedoc77

macrumors G3
Jun 11, 2009
9,890
3,804
Makes a good case for giving the iphone pen support, honestly I'm surprised they didn't do this with the larger Max phones. They have to hunt and peck on the onscreen keyboard, or go to their vehicle to type it out. With a pen and good handwriting recognition they can function as they did with the old notebooks but with the benefit of digital.
 
Comment

BF1M

macrumors 6502a
Nov 17, 2018
630
774
They took police iPhones away near where I call home. An officer or two was using iMessage to harass women(dirty messages, pictures) and when it was reported there was of course no number to number link on the bills. They had to prove it through other means. Both the cops are still at work too. They called the women liars basically until it was proven conclusively then they got off with not even a slap on the wrist. Using government issued phones for harassment and they still have their badges.

Something like this has a lot of wiggle room for abuse and finger pointing. Didn't take good notes? "Sure, I did the app must have lost them."

We need to only look as far as Iowa...
 
Comment

konqerror

macrumors 68020
Dec 31, 2013
2,298
3,693
Something like this has a lot of wiggle room for abuse and finger pointing. Didn't take good notes? "Sure, I did the app must have lost them."

The issue is alterations to paper records. Electronic notebooks track this, but it's very difficult to determine if something was added after the fact on paper. See the Martha Stewart conviction.

Besides, you don't think paper notebooks get "lost"?
 
Comment

Nexus1974

macrumors newbie
Feb 21, 2017
8
19
Greenock, Scotland
Could be a lot faster if uses the iPhone features smartly and not just a note taking app e.g

- recording street location using GPS
- taking photographs of crime scene
- recording conversations of witnesses
- using databases to cross reference to allow quick lookups of other data.
- quick lookup fields / drop down lists etc for type of crimes

then can be uploaded via 3G/4G/5G to central database for cross reference work

I reckon most young people can type as quickly on smart phones as they can write on paper, but for older police officers might require some getting used to.
 
Comment

BF1M

macrumors 6502a
Nov 17, 2018
630
774
The issue is alterations to paper records. Electronic notebooks track this, but it's very difficult to determine if something was added after the fact on paper. See the Martha Stewart conviction.

Besides, you don't think paper notebooks get "lost"?

Oh they most certainly do. Not saying paper is the gold standard, just that they need to think this through.
 
Comment

anthogag

macrumors 6502
Jan 15, 2015
429
488
Canada
Officers should have a notes-type app so they can also hand-write notes. They have stressful jobs and typing with a keyboard can be frustrating when you're excited or need to do things quickly; more so when you battle a spellchecker as you type.

For speed and quick flexibility nothing is better than pencil + paper. Apple needs to add Apple Pen use to the iPhone.
 
Comment
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.