Over the last two years, the NYPD has handed out 36,000 smartphones to its force as part of an effort to bring the department "into the 21st century," as Mayor de Blasio put it when the initiative was announced in 2014. Unfortunately, the city decided to purchase our cops now-defunct Windows phones, and they'll have to replace all of them. So much for being up to speed on modern technology.
Mayor de Blasio and then-Police Commissioner Bill Bratton announced the $160 million NYPD Mobility Initiative in 2014, pledging to gift officers with smartphones and tablets in order to make it easier to provide them with up-to-date information and increased communication capabilities. But for some reason the city decided to invest in the Windows-based Nokia Lumia 830 and Lumia 640 XL phones, and in July Microsoft announced it would no longer support Windows Phone 8.1.
Windows phones have been buggy and under-supported for years, and the NYPD stocking its force with them was like changing all the police cruisers to AMC Gremlins. It would have made far more sense for the NYPD to invest in phones with staying power. As tech site CNET said in October, “You read that right. Life and death situations rely on outdated phones running Microsoft’s Windows Phone software."
According to the New York Post, the decision to pick an abacus of a cell phone was all on NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Information Technology Jessica Tisch. Apparently Tisch insisted on the phones because the NYPD was using Microsoft software elsewhere, but didn't bother consulting with other IT experts before mandating the force make her desired purchase. As Bratton told reporters, of Tisch, “She’s a terror if she doesn’t get her way, so I usually let her get her way, so she’s certainly getting her way with this technology." Wonderful.
Meanwhile, the NYPD officers said the Windows phones were useful because cops were able to receive text messages and search law enforcement databases, and boy will they be impressed when they see an iPhone for the first time.
The NYPD has not yet responded to request for comment.