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U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services

145 N Street, N.E.
Washington, DC 20530

December 2018 | Volume 11 | Issue 12

The Arlington (Texas) Police Department (APD) received a 2015 Community Policing Development Microgrant award for the project “Arlington Police Department Mobile Phone App” to facilitate better communication within the police department and between the APD and citizens.

The Arlington Police Department (APD) is in the process of deploying a sophisticated mobile app that is unique on the current market. While many vendors offer various ways of accessing data in a mobile environment, this app allows field officers and supervisors to access relevant, real-time data instantly. Developed by 3Di in coordination with a grant from the COPS Office, this mobile app brings policing further into the 21st century.

Mobile apps offer the convenience of accessing pertinent information quickly and efficiently. Almost every employee carries a smartphone as they carry out their daily duties. Having relevant information and resources can assist staff in multiple ways including quickly obtaining policy information, corporate communications, and other criminal justice information from their smartphones.

The following highlights a few of the tools available to officers:

  • Chief’s Blog. Departmental communication from Chief Johnson on specific issues and the weekly newsletter. Employees can comment on the posts with feedback.
  • Reference. This section links to all information an officer may need while on duty. It includes the department’s general orders, city and state statutes, intelligence bulletins from the Arlington Tactical Intelligence Unit and Crime Analysis Unit, standard operating procedures, shift reports that summarize notable incidents, and training materials. Officers’ access to APD information enhances their safety.
  • Social Media. This section links employees to the department’s social media posts even if they do not have accounts on Facebook or Twitter. The department’s media team is constantly posting on social media to update the public to the activities of the department. It is important that employees know APD’s message to the public.
  • Messaging. This function enables communications between users and groups. Chat messaging is useful when unit commanders need to relay instant information to their staff. All messages are retained per the City’s retention policies and move department conversations from personal devices to the department’s cloud platform.
  • Calendar. This feature populates with APD events such as graduations, retirements, and festivities so all employees have quick access to these agency events.

The mobile app project in Arlington was divided into three categories. The first two categories include an internal version of the mobile app for exclusive use by department employees. The third version is an external-facing mobile app that affords community members an opportunity to stay connected with the department.

In the internal versions, employees can choose from a Criminal Justice Information Systems (CJIS)–compliant version or a non-CJIS version of the app. The Criminal Justice Information Systems (CJIS) has strict policies that govern access to confidential criminal justice information. Access to the CJIS version of the APD app requires the installation of 3Di's mobile device management (MDM) app, allowing the agency to apply CJIS-compliant security controls on personally owned and agency-owned devices. Employees who prefer not to have MDM software on their personally owned devices can elect to install the non-CJIS version, which will limit their ability to access confidential information. The department is awaiting final approval from the Texas Department of Public Safety on the CJIS version of the application.

For the CJIS version of the mobile app, officers can access the following subsets of relevant information:

  • Computer-aided dispatch calls and details
  • GPS mapping of all current calls for service
  • GPS mapping of all marked units
  • Intelligence bulletins
  • Corporate communications from the department and Police Chief Will Johnson
  • Reference materials such as policies and other helpful guides
  • Calendar
  • Social media accounts
  • Messaging in groups

“Having readily available call information for supervisors and field staff who may not be at their mobile data computer elevates our position to be informed in real-time on incidents that are unfolding,” said Arlington Police Lieutenant Christopher Cook with the Media Office.

“This highlights our partnership with the COPS Office and the value that employees and citizens will gain through a mobile application,” said Chief Johnson. “We are incredibly fortunate to have a design team that worked many months to bring this project forward.”

Lieutenant Christopher Cook
Media Office

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