State Officials Unveil New Smartphone App For Law Enforcement

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State Attorney General Kamala Harris and San Francisco officials unveiled a new smartphone app Monday that will allow law enforcement to access local, state and federal criminal databases and file reports from out in the field.

The JusticeMobile app, developed by the California Department of Justice, will allow authorities to look into criminal backgrounds of possible suspects without having to call or radio to another member of their department for the information.

"This is going to be transformative for law enforcement in the state," Harris said.

The app was tested over the past five months by more than 600 San Francisco police officers and will soon be rolled out in smartphones being given to all officers in the department, including a recently graduated academy class, police Chief Greg Suhr said.

Suhr said the smartphones also have the technology to allow officers to file reports remotely rather than coming back to a district station, allowing them to be in the field up to 40 percent longer.

"This is going to be the industry standard," he said.

Mayor Ed Lee said the use of new technology could be a factor in the city's recent downtick in violence. San Francisco has seen 40 percent less homicides and 20 percent less shootings than at the same time last year, he said.

Harris said Los Angeles police will soon be equipping their officers with the smartphone app, while other departments also plan to do so.

She said special Department of Justice agents have already been using the app to check potential gun buyers at firearm shows in California to see if they are on the list of people prohibited from possessing a gun.

The app will employ rigorous security standards including strong password requirements, encryption, limits on downloads and the prohibiting of copying or screen captures, according to the attorney general's office.

San Francisco police had initially tested another pilot program involving the use of tablet computers by field officers, but Suhr said the project was scrapped after it proved to be too costly and without adequate security protections.

 

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