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Mobile Crime-Fighting App Gives Police Instant Database Access

LOS ANGELES ( — Police officers in Los Angeles and across California will soon be using a smartphone app that can provide instant access to state and federal criminal databases.

By the end of this year, the Los Angeles Police Department plans to equip 3,600 officers with the JusticeMobile app, which was created by the California Department of Justice (DOJ) and several San Francisco city departments, according to officials.

More than 600 San Francisco Police Department officers started using the app Monday, giving them access to internal SFPD, California DOJ and federal law enforcement databases. An additional 1,000 officers with the department are expected to participate in the initiative by the end of 2013.

The JusticeMobile app allows SFPD officers to identify suspects, search decades of police incident data, document crime scenes, and take video and audio accounts of crimes and then upload them at the touch of a button for sharing and mapping department-wide.

JusticeMobile crime app
The JusticeMobile app allows police to identify suspects, search decades of police incident data, document crime scenes, and collect and share video and audio accounts of crimes at the touch of a button. (Photo courtesy CA DOJ)

Emergency 911 call histories will also be accessible via the device, along with data records used by law enforcement including booking photos, Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) records and criminal histories. Officers have previously had to use a phone or radio to contact personnel to obtain this information.

"We have mobile apps for everything from banking to board games on our phones. But, incredibly, law enforcement hasn't had the tools to access important criminal justice information on handhelds and tablets until now," Attorney General Kamala Harris said. "JusticeMobile is a quantum leap forward for public and peace officer safety, and it demonstrates our commitment to facilitating the adoption of new technology by law enforcement."

DOJ agents can also use JusticeMobile as a tool to keep illegal firearms away from convicted criminals.

Under a pilot program, agents can use JusticeMobile on their iPads to check potential gun buyers at weekend firearms shows statewide by checking names against the Bureau of Firearms Armed Prohibited Persons (APPS) database.

While previously agents were able to run only 20 individuals against the APPS list at a weekend gun show, now using JusticeMobile, agents can check 80 individuals, an increase of 300 percent, officials said.

Justice Department officials say the app, which costs $28 annually per officer, also employs rigorous security standards, including strong password requirements, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) requiring two-factor authorization, encryption and limits on downloads and backup/syncing. It also prohibits copying or screen captures, according to officials.

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