Tucson, Arizona — Though many folks in Tucson feeling the economic crunch wouldn’t dream of buying an iPhone for themselves, some Tucsonans just got some for free. Well, sort of. Tax-payer dollars, specifically Homeland Security funds, are being used to provide more than 130 Apple iPhones to the Pima County Sheriff’s Department.
Some Tucson citizens are fretting the cost of the service plans that will be needed for these hundred-plus phones, and some don’t see the need for them in the first place. On a KVOA article response comment, a man who called himself “Eric George” voiced his opinion: “This… iPhone is nothing but the command staff’s need for another play toy, so the neighborhood kids can “ooh” and “ahh”.”
However, reaction on the street seems to favor the decision to give Tucson and Pima County’s finest a new tool to add to their arsenal. “I think it’s wonderful,” said a woman outside a Northside Tucson grocery store when asked for her reaction. “These guys are putting themselves out there every day….they need all the help they can get”, the unidentified woman went on to say.
And “help” is exactly what these iPhones mean for police working Tucson and the surrounding area. The Pima County Sheriff’s Department has issued each detective in the department their own iPhone; all 132 of them. Assuming full price, at a price tag of between $199-600 for various models of Apple iPhones, that would put anywhere from a $25,000 to more than $50,000 dent in Arizona’s Homeland Security funding. The actual amount spent on the iPhones in unconfirmed.
The thing that makes Apple’s iPhone so unique and appealing to law enforcement is Cop Link. What is Cop Link? A user-friendly, criminal records data-bank that functions sort of like any other iPhone application, or ‘app’. iPhone’s Cop Link feature offers time-saving, touch-screen access to valuable information on criminals, such as mug shots, important “be on the lookout” information, images of stolen cars, and more. The access to Cop Link, coupled with the iPhone’s overall flexibility and mobility, make the phone an invaluable new tool in high-tech law enforcement.
Gone are the days of the Wild West, where the Sheriff rode in on horseback and dragged the town drunk to the pokey. Now, expect to see smartly-dressed men and women in sleek, unmarked cars, fiddling with high-end PDAs while planning their next crime-fighting move. With the iPhone, Pima County Sheriff’s Office detectives can conduct important, potentially life-saving research right out in the field. Previously, the police may have had to relay information over the radio to a dispatcher, spelling out most things for clarification. Then the dispatcher could find information on computer systems and transmit it back to the officers. This is time-consuming and often inconvenient for police when conducting their duties.
Now, thanks to funds provided by Homeland Security, detectives in the Pima County Sheriff’s Department won’t have to wait for important data, and can learn about the people they are dealing with out on the streets more quickly. Using their iPhones with access to Cop Link, described by Lupita Murillo on KVOA news as “Google for law enforcement”, the Sheriff’s office can respond to crime more efficiently and have the most up-to-date information on warrants, court dates, rap sheets, mugshots and more, right at their fingertips.
By and large, distributing iPhones to the detectives within the Pima County Sheriff’s Department is a bold, forward-thinking move that may prove a powerful step in staying ahead of the crime-fighting curve. Police can better protect a community when they have the best, most reliable information at a glance. The iPhones with Cop Link should help bring both the police who use them and the community who are protected by them more up to speed, and with that comes an almost priceless peace of mind.
Sources: Monday News Coverage, 10/05/09, KVOA Tucson