Honest, Officer… There’s an App for ThatThe world is coming to your holster.  No, not the one with the Glock or Taser… your cell PHONE holster.  For most of the history of mobile phones they were communication devices that had some additional features, such as an address book.  Blackberry became famous for having the ability to receive email on the go.  Now, mobile phone technology has morphed into mobile computing.  Additionally, tablet computers such as the iPad and its Android counterpart, have taken mobile computing to a new level.

IPhone leads the way in applications (apps for short) with more than 500,000.  Android is a relatively close second, with more than 400,000 and Windows 7 Phone has at least 40,000.  There’s an app for everyone, including law enforcement.

One of the first that caught my eye is available for iPhone, iPad, Android, and Android tablets.  It’s called, “U.S. Cop” and the latest version has 960 pages of material covering accident investigation, training lessons, an extensive pill identifier with list of commonly-abused prescription medications, and more.  The app includes a case law database covering subjects such as probable cause, consent searches, use of force, police pursuit, and the ever-popular cavity search (always a party favorite).  The app costs $3.99.

Law Stack describes itself as a “legal library in your pocket.”  It comes with sections on the Constitution, Federal Rules for Civil, Criminal, Appellate Procedure, Rules of Evidence, Code of the U.S., Code of Virginia and other states.  The heart of the program is a robust search engine that is context-sensitive.  New case law is available from the publisher as a series of downloads.

Law Enforcement Field Reports for Android and Android tablets (free download) seeks to reduce or eliminate paperwork necessary to file incident, accident, and field reports (and work orders).  The ability to fill out required data on-scene also increases accuracy.  Features such as pull-down menus and speech-to-text are designed to make data entry as painless and quick as possible.

The Police Spanish Guide is another free app from the Android Market.  It comes with pre-programmed and indexed phrases tabbed by subjects such as basic questions, routine traffic stop, traffic/driving violations, field sobriety tests, lost child, domestic disputes, and interrogation.  The officer finds the subject, then the phrase, and the program talks for you.  There are even “flash cards” to teach the officer Spanish phrases required on the job.

These are just a few of the apps out there dedicated to law enforcement.  Other general purpose apps can be used for disaster communication (e.g. Facebook and Twitter), geo-location (Google Maps or Google Earth), and multi-language translation (Google Translate).  Most are free or at low cost.  These are the ones I’ve found, but you guys are the experts.  What apps do you use?

Bruce Bremer, MBA is LET’s technology contributor. Bruce retired from the Submarine Service after 21 years of in-depth experience with complex electronic technology. Since then, he has been involved in fleet modernization and military research analysis. He teaches electronics and alternative energy at a Virginia college. Besides his MBA, Bruce earned a Bachelor of Science degree in computer networking. He has been volunteering in public safety for many years.

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