After more than a century, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) is retiring the handwritten memo books carried by police officers and replacing them with an app, The New York Times reports. On February 17th, officers will begin recording their detailed activity logs in an iOS app on department-issued iPhones.
The app will send notes to a department database, which offers a few benefits over the physical notebooks. It could eliminate potential abuses, like faking entries in order to get search warrants, and headaches, like having to interpret illegible handwriting. Plus, individual officers won’t have to keep track of dozens of notebooks. Instead the logs will be managed in the database, and officers will be able to do quick database searches through the app when they’re in the field.
Of course, there are potential drawbacks. Police union officials fear the app could lead to invasive real-time tracking of officers’ locations, and unlike physical notebooks, phones can stop working and be hacked. The NYPD won’t be alone, though. As you’d expect, many major departments across the US have already moved away from log books.