Police notebooksSource: The New York Times

What you need to know

  • The NYPD will stop using paper notebooks on February 17.
  • A new app-based solution will be used.
  • 37,000 iPhones are already used by the NYPD.

The New York Police Department has used paper-based notetaking as a way to keep track of things for more than a century. But come February 17 that's going to end, with an iPhone app picking up the load.

Previously the paper notebooks were kept for years, often after an officer had retired, in case they were needed in a case. That will no longer be necessary, according to The New York Times, with the digital solution keeping all notes stored centrally. That will allow new searching capabilities without the need to go digging through piles of notebooks to find the right information.

But now the department, not the officer, will keep that information. Officers and department officials may search entries — those made since the transition, anyway — by date or keyword, instead of rummaging for old memo books stored in lockers.

Officers concerned that the app will be pleased to learn that there are fields for all kinds of things, including photos. Something their notebooks couldn't do.

The app, which the department developed and tested with input from its officers, has fields for officers to enter details about their patrol shifts, their police vehicles, 911 responses and other information, including photos.

Dispatchers will also be able to automatically plug information from 911 calls right into an officer's app, saving time and avoiding mistakes. The move to digital notes will also allow the NYPD to reduce its paper waste, too.

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The full New York Times article is definitely worth a read for more details. Including the part about the first officer to the World Trade Center on 9/11. Amazingly, he still has his notebook from that day.