Mayor de Blasio, Commissioner Bratton, and District Attorney Vance Announce Major Initiative to Enhance NYPD Mobile Communications

October 23, 2014

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City, Manhattan DA’s Office Commit Criminal Asset Forfeiture Funds to $160 Million Initiative to Provide 41,000 Tablets and Handheld Mobile Devices for Every NYPD Officer and Patrol Car

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio, Police Commissioner William J. Bratton, and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced a major initiative that will in many ways transform the way NYPD officers perform their duties. Using criminal asset forfeiture funds secured by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office through recent sanctions cases, the $160 million NYPD Mobility Initiative will provide NYPD officers with up to 41,000 mobile devices, including tablet computers and handheld devices that will streamline law enforcement efforts, increase the safety of New Yorkers as well as police officers, and ensure fairness within the City’s criminal justice system.

“We must have 21st Century tools to deal with 21st Century threats, and this infusion of new resources will arm our officers with the technology and information they need to fight crime and protect the City against terrorism more efficiently and more effectively,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “In an emergency, every minute counts, and this initiative will allow our officers in the field to get up-to-date, accurate information and process critical information anywhere in the city. I am thankful for the Manhattan District Attorney for being such a great partner to the City, and for his efforts to secure this much-needed investment that will benefit all New Yorkers for years to come.”

“This technology funding will significantly help to advance the NYPD’s move into 21st Century policing. The timely access to critical information is key to effective policing and enhanced public safety. This initiative will clearly result in more efficient crime-fighting, counter-terrorism measures, and service to the people of New York City. I want to thank New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance for his invaluable support in furthering this important technological advancement,” said Police Commissioner William J. Bratton.

“This significant investment will immeasurably enhance law enforcement and the criminal justice system, not only in Manhattan, but throughout the City. By allocating funds secured as a result of criminal misconduct back into our communities, we are placing real-time data in the hands of every police officer. Whether preventing everyday street crime or a potential act of terrorism, this will enable officers to better protect New Yorkers, while at the same time creating a fairer criminal justice system. I would like to thank the Mayor and Commissioner Bratton for their partnership in this important initiative and their commitment to the future of New York City,” said District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr.

“We are pleased to see this investment and welcome the positive impact it will have on the vital partnership between the NYPD and the Bronx DA’s office.  This technology will help in quickly and accurately getting information to the officers and then from the officers to prosecutors.  That will help us build stronger cases against wrongdoers, and more quickly exonerate the innocent,” said Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson.

This $160 million initiative will upgrade the NYPD’s mobile technology platform and fund it over the next three years, allowing the Department to outfit up to 6,000 police cars with ruggedized tablet computers, as well as provide 35,000 handheld devices to every police officer. These modern, handheld devices will provide police officers with a variety of tools, including state-of-the-art terror and crime-fighting technologies that have been developed in the last decade. For example, the NYPD has developed a mobile version of the Domain Awareness System (DAS) that the Department pioneered in the past five years to detect and prevent terrorist acts. Like the DAS itself, the mobility platform—including the hardware that supports it and the applications that run on it—was built separate from the rest of the NYPD’s technology systems, which are somewhat dated. With the funding that is being provided by the City and the District Attorney for this technology, the NYPD will now be in a position to expand its functionality to help in other crime-fighting and public service efforts.

The new NYPD Mobility technology will also include:

  • Enhanced Patrol Efficiencies – Patrol officers will have expanded search capabilities, including access to the majority of NYPD databases, and will be able to conduct various record checks from the field in a timelier manner. The tablets and handheld devices will also have the capability of directly receiving information pertaining to 911 emergency calls, often prior to radio dispatch, enabling swifter response to crimes in progress and requests for service. Programs are being developed through which officers will have the capability to enter reports in the field and to process other data without returning to the precinct.
  • Officer Safety Features ­– Real-time 911 data, including call-taker notes, the past history of 911 calls, and complaints and police actions at dispatched locations will be available to responding officers. These features will help to provide potentially relevant and critical information about the location to which they are responding. Additional features, including GPS applications, are being explored. This technology will assist officers through mapping features and help to identify other police resources for back-up and response coordination purposes. GPS will also assist in more efficient management of patrol resources.
  • Detective Support – Detectives working active cases in the field will have access to the full range of investigative databases, creating a virtual portable Real Time Crime Center. The detectives will be tied into the Department’s Enterprise Case Management System, allowing them to review and update case information from the field.
  • Direct and Decentralized Communications – Wanted posters, Amber Alerts and missing persons photos can be sent to field officers immediately, thus enhancing the potential for a more timely arrest, victim recovery or rescue.
  • Enhanced Communication – Email addresses will be established for all officers to improve Department communications across the board.
  • Counterterrorism Force Multiplier – The ability to promptly alert field officers will have particular benefits for possible counterterrorism issues. Alerts will be transmitted directly to officers in the field through their electronic devices, thus providing critical information and updates in a timely and coordinated manner.

It is expected that further functionality will be added to the mobile platform next year, including the integration of fingerprint scanning to support in-field identity checks.

The initiative also includes the funding of data plans, additional infrastructure (such as servers and storage to support the delivery of the application to mobile devices), security (including hardware and software to protect the NYPD network), network enhancement (capacity, resiliency, and redundancy of the interface between the telecommunications network and the NYPD network), application development (data collection and retrieval, and seamless integration with the NYPD’s case management system), and tech support.

In addition to the critical upgrades to the NYPD’s in-field law enforcement capabilities, the platform will have a major impact on New York City’s criminal justice system by providing real-time data and increasing the accuracy and efficiency of information sharing between the police department, local prosecutors, and other law enforcement agencies. This new technology will not only strengthen public safety, it will also further establish fairness within the justice system by ensuring that the right individuals are being arrested and charged with crimes. By giving police officers in the field tools generally only available at the precinct, they will have as much information as possible to make the most informed decisions.   

The $90 million in funding being allocated by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office is the result of sanction cases, including its share of approximately $440 million of the $8.83 billion settlement reached in June 2014 with BNP Paribas S.A. (BNPP)—the largest bank in France—for violating U.S. sanctions. The City is committing $70 million in asset forfeiture funds from the settlement. In the guilty plea, BNPP admitted to moving hundreds of millions of dollars through Manhattan-based financial institutions on behalf of primarily Sudanese, Iranian and Cuban clients. Today’s announcement is the first major allocation of these funds, and the District Attorney’s Office intends to make additional funding announcements in the near future focusing on transformative projects in sex crimes, cybercrime, mental health, public housing, and domestic violence.

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