SF police set to expand use of crime-fighting mobile app 

click to enlarge Greg Suhr San Francisco Police Department chief
  • Getty Images file photo
  • San Francisco Police Department officers will soon be expanding their use of a mobile app that gives them access to criminal justice records in the field.

State and local law enforcement officials in California said Monday that they hope a new mobile application will help officers on the street fight crime by using their smartphones.

Mayor Ed Lee and Police Chief Greg Suhr joined state Attorney General Kamala Harris on Monday to announce that about 600 San Francisco officers have used a smartphone app called JusticeMobile that allows them to look up suspects' statewide criminal records while they are out on patrol.

Plans call for about 1,600 officers in San Francisco to receive an expanded version of the app that will include federal criminal records. More than 3,600 Los Angeles police officers also will soon receive the app, which was created by the Attorney General's Office and several San Francisco city departments using federal, state and local funds.

This year, New York City police began testing a similar app to access their department's criminal records. But Harris, Lee and Suhr said California is the only state in the country where officers will have access to statewide criminal records.

Harris calls the new technology transformative as it allows officers on the streets the immediacy to access criminal justice information on a potential suspect right from their phones, instead of calling or radioing back to their stations.

Lee said the app comes just as San Francisco has seen a 40 percent decrease in homicides and a 20 percent drop in shootings this year compared to last year. He knocked on a wooden lectern, acknowledging that other Bay Area cities, including Oakland and San Jose, are grappling with high violent crime rates.

Suhr said the app has rigorous security standards as officers will have to go through multiple verifications to use it. Data on the app can be erased remotely if the phone is lost or stolen.

The chief said plans for the app were two years in the making as the department had initially considered using tablets. But officers favored smartphones and many will use Samsung Galaxy devices, Suhr said.

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