clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

New phones will let Chicago beat cops tap the city’s 35,000 surveillance cameras

The Harrison District will test new Samsung phones that will give officers access to myriad high-tech law enforcement tools — all while on the move.

Jonathan Lewin, chief of the Chicago Police Department’s Bureau of Technological Services, and Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson at a news conference Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019.
Jonathan Lewin, chief of the Chicago Police Department’s Bureau of Technological Services, and Supt. Eddie Johnson on Wednesday announced a smartphone pilot program in the Harrison District.
Mitch Dudek/Sun-Times

Beat cops in one West Side district will soon be able to tap their new phones and pull up live security camera feeds from the city’s network of about 35,000 cameras.

Not only that, they’ll be able to control zooming and panning.

Accessing the cameras is not an option to the thousands of beat cops who rely on standard laptop computers mounted to their squad car dashboards.

The new phones will also allow officers to access myriad high-tech law enforcement tools on one user-friendly platform — all while on the move.

Harrison District officers will test the phones beginning in September.

“When I ask officers what technology they like the most, cameras are way at the top of the list,” said Jonathan Lewin, chief of the Chicago Police Department’s Bureau of Technological Services.

Lewin and Police Supt. Eddie Johnson announced the partnership with Samsung at a news conference Wednesday.

The standard laptops will be removed from squad cars in the Harrison District. In their place will be a phone dock that will serve as a charger and sync information from the phone with a dash-mounted screen that’s attached to a keypad.

The phones will be capable of everything the old laptop computers did, such as displaying dispatch assignments, allowing beat cops to run name and vehicle checks, as well as fill out reports.

Another new function of the phones will let officers watch footage from their body cameras in the field rather than having to go to police stations.

“I’m expecting to see more time on patrol and less time in the station,” Lewin said.

And like their laptop counterparts, the phones will also be capable of displaying near realtime information collected from a network of devices that listen for gunshots throughout the city.

The program is expected to save money. The laptops, which have been standard squad car equipment for years, cost about $4,000 on average.

The new Samsung phones are provided free through telecom service agreements.

“We think that this is going to save officers time, improve officer safety, increase efficiency, save money and provide a platform for growth in the future,” Lewin said.