When police officers in Redlands, California, go on patrol, they’re equipped with all the essential gear — including iPads and iPhones. “Prominently displayed on every officer’s belt is an iPhone,” says Jim Bueermann, Chief of Police for the city of Redlands. “It’s their information universe when they’re out in the community, where people need to see them. It’s as integral as their police radio or any of the other critical equipment on their duty belt.”
iPad and iPhone help police officers monitor the safety of this thriving community of 70,000, which used to be a railway and citrus-growing hub 60 miles east of Los Angeles. “We try to identify problems before they turn into crime and disorder,” Bueermann explains. “We use a variety of mechanisms, whether it’s research or community partnerships or technology, to make things more cost effective, more efficient and, above all, more responsive to the folks we serve every day.”
The Redlands Police Department relies on iPad and iPhone as two-way multimedia conduits that allow them to keep an eye on people, places and situations that need attention.
“iPhone and iPad are really helping the Redlands Police Department make the community safer,” says Lieutenant Chris Catren. “I think iPad has the potential to be adopted on a mass scale in law enforcement because of its portability, its ease of use and its instantly 'on' technology. This device is really made for law enforcement.”
With its large, clear display, iPad makes it easy for the department’s command staff, detectives and officers to view details on maps and photos — and the onscreen keyboard lets them take notes anywhere. “iPad has become the centre of my information universe,” Bueermann says. “It has replaced the ubiquitous note pad I carried with me. Now I do all of that via iPad.”
iPad also helps break the ice between police officers and the public, Bueermann adds: “With iPad, even if I’m in uniform, it’s very common for people to come up to me. It opens up a whole discussion about how the police department uses technology. You get beyond the badge and the uniform, and lower that barrier that separates police officers from the people they serve.”
Lieutenant Chris Catren, Redlands Police Department
Whether on foot, on a bicycle, in a patrol car or on a Segway in the town centre, Redlands police officers use iPhone and iPad to access, send and receive the rich stream of data they need to keep tabs on potential issues. “It allows them to look at satellite maps, access the Internet, send emails, and take photos of victims or potential suspects.” Bueermann says.
“Having all this information at your fingertips and being able to share it instantaneously with other officers in the field is invaluable,” Catren agrees. “We have had many cases where officers have been able to quickly identify perpetrators, or transfer video that’s led to the capture of suspects.”
For Detective Leslie Martinez, iPhone and iPad are valuable tools that help crack property-theft cases. “iPhone has changed the way I work,” she says. “I communicate with the community in a better way and a lot more. It might be via email or texting, just getting information back and forth. Rather than setting up an appointment with somebody, I can send them a photo and say, ‘This looks like that piece of jewellery you were talking about. Take a look and let me know if that’s it.’”
She also uses her iPhone to help solve larger cases. “We had one where it was floor-to-ceiling full of stolen merchandise from many different retailers,” she recalls. Using the RedLaser app on iPhone, Martinez scanned the barcodes to find out which stores the products might have come from, significantly simplifying a complex, time-consuming puzzle.
The Redlands force uses several police-centric apps developed for iPad and iPhone, such as Field Contact, a documentation app that aids data collection in the field, and searchable editions of the California Penal Code and California Vehicle Code.
But many of the department’s go-to apps aren’t specialised law-enforcement tools at all, Bueermann says. “Sometimes the same applications that work in business or the rest of society work just as well for what we do.”
For example, Bueermann and his staff use Keynote, which allows them to deliver professional-grade presentations via iPad, and Office2 HD on iPad to create and edit Microsoft Word and Excel documents. “That app combined with the size of iPad has been invaluable, because it’s big enough for you to type reports,” Catren says. “Instead of coming back to the building, officers can handle these tasks in the ‘hot‑spot’ areas where crimes occur. It keeps them out on the streets and in the community for longer periods.”
Deploying iPhone and iPad within the Redlands Police Department has been “completely seamless”, says Bueermann. “We have had no problems, no concerns about the security of our data and how we access it.”
And because the devices are so easy to use, training has proven completely unnecessary, Catren says. “When we issue iPhones and iPads to officers, nobody ever says, ‘I don’t understand how to use this device.’ They’re so intuitive, having the Multi‑Touch screen and the ability to zoom in and out. iPad just works. iPhone just works. That’s all we really ask of any device.”
With iPhone, iPad and the limitless apps available to do just about anything, police officers in Redlands are better equipped to collect and decipher field data, communicate key facts and identify patterns to help keep their city safe.
“iPad and iPhone are the two most cost-effective technologies we can invest in to get this job done,” Bueermann says. “Having an iPad with me means I do a better job. I’m clearly a better police chief, and I’m more creative in my vision of how we should provide services to this community. I would tell other police chiefs they’re crazy to ignore this.”
Lieutenant Chris Catren, Redlands Police Department