City police to get smart phones

The Baltimore Police Department (USA) plans to equip more than 2,000 officers with sophisticated smart phones allowing them to check warrants, retrieve driver’s license photos and conduct background checks on hand-held devices, an initiative designed to get police out of patrol cars and walking the beat.

The city Board of Estimates approved on Tuesday spending $3.5 million in federal stimulus money on the new technology, expected to be in place by the end of the year. City Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III called it the most extensive program of its kind in the country.

In the next few months, nearly all of the department’s patrol officers will receive BlackBerrys equipped with an application called PocketCop, which allows for rapid access to critical databases.

The phones’ built-in GPS function will also let the department track movements and deployment patterns of police, a feature that is making some officers wary. (…)