New York City police are being issued hand-held devices connected to crime and terrorism databases under a program funded in part by the $8.83 billion legal settlement with France's largest bank.
The department will equip 6,000 squad cars with break- resistant tablets that will eventually be able to scan for fingerprints, and each officer will receive a smartphone. The moves are part of a $160 million program paid for in part from the settlement with Paris-based BNP Paribas SA, which this year pleaded guilty to violating U.S. anti-terrorism sanctions.
For the first time, all of the department's 50,000 employees will be given e-mail addresses, allowing Commissioner William Bratton to communicate instantly with the entire force, city officials said today at a news briefing in Manhattan.
The mobile devices will be "transformational to this department" when they are deployed next year, Bratton said, comparing their impact to Compstat, the computerization of real- time crime data that he credited with starting a trend in which felonies have been reduced by 75 percent since 1993.
"This technology funding will significantly help to advance the NYPD's move into 21st century policing," Bratton told reporters at the briefing, where he was joined by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.
Tablet-equipped squad cars mean that officers would no longer have to transport a detainee to the precinct to determine whether the individual has a criminal history. Before entering a building, an officer can learn who inside owns a registered gun or has been arrested, Bratton said.
Wanted posters and missing-persons reports could be sent to all patrols instantly, enhancing opportunities for identification or rescue, he said.
Vance's office provided $90 million of the cost of the devices, part of $440 million allocated to it as part of the BNP settlement. The bank paid the money to the city, state and federal governments after admitting that it handled transactions with Sudanese, Iranian and Cuban clients, violating federal laws barring transactions with countries identified as participating in state-sponsored terrorism.
The remaining $70 million will come out of the city's $75 billion annual budget enhanced by its share of forfeiture funds, de Blasio said. The city and state of New York each shared a portion of the settlement, with the federal government receiving half.