We previously did a post on the Baltimore PD BlackBerry initiative when it was an announced last fall.  This year at WES, the systems director for the Baltimore Police Dept. Gayle Guildford and the project manager Sergeant Sheree Briscoe were here representing the department as they were finalists for the Wireless Leadership Awards.

In an effort to get the beat cop out of the car where they are isolated from the community and back on the streets, Police Commissioner Frederick Bealefield has armed them with BlackBerry devices.  The initiative is meant to go back the days of old when the neighborhood cop on the corner was a part of the community who knew everyone and everyone knew him.

When the project is fully deployed there will be 2,000 devices in use, today they have 200 out on the street.  These officers are equipped with a BlackBerry Curve 8330 on Verizon, and an extended life battery which offers 140% longer battery life than the standard.

The BPD has also loaded the these devices with a managed GPS solution so that dispatches and watch commanders can know exactly where the officers are and can push down high priority warrants for criminals known to be in that specific area.

The BlackBerry devices also have a piece of software called "Pocket Cop" which allows the officers to run ID checks and license plate tags.

The entire project is called Side Partner and it is giving at least 30 minutes back into an officers day, time previously spent waiting for queries to come back.  Before the Side Partner program an officer would need to take ID back to the car and enter the data into the computer terminal and wait for the data to come back - now they stay at the scene and run all required info from their BlackBerry.

At present the Side Partner can run tags by manually entering the tag number into the BlackBerry but Sergeant Sheree Briscoe says that budget permitting, would like to be expanded to allow for a photo to be taken and have a tag run automatically.

The camera is being utilized now, with officers taking photos of crime scenes to get the investigations started immediately without needing to wait for crime scene investigates.

To improve security, the department used token-based two-factor authentication with RSA tokens.  They had also needed to ruggedize the handsets and find holsters that held the handsets securely during foot chases.

It's a very impressive program that I'm sure will catch on and spread out to other police departments around North America.

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