The NYPD will ditch paper notebooks in favor of a new iPhone app

Police notebooks
Police notebooks (Image credit: 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.

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.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.