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Brian Cain

Brian Cain

Brian Cain is a sergeant with the Holly Springs (Ga.) Police Department, and is known as the "Millennial cop" on Twitter. He has been in law enforcement since 2000. He hosts and produces a podcast for Millennials in law enforcement.

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Doug Wyllie

Doug Wyllie has authored more than 1,000 articles and tactical tips aimed at ensuring that police officers are safer and more successful on the streets. Doug is a Western Publishing Association “Maggie Award” winner for Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column. He is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers’ Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

Michael Bostic

Michael Bostic

Mike Bostic, of Raytheon Corp.'s Civil Communication Solutions group, specializes in open architecture, systems integration of communications and data programs. Mike spent 34 years with the LAPD. He managed IT and facility development, as well as the SWAT Board of Inquiry, which developed new command-and-control systems.

4 Useful Law Enforcement Apps

These four apps help you with firearms, AEDs, Miranda warnings, and vehicle identification.

June 10, 2013  |  by Logan Harper

Screenshot via Purple Forge.
Screenshot via Purple Forge.
As smartphones and other mobile devices become more prevalent in law enforcement, officers search for reference apps that quickly bring actionable information to the field. A reference app is an effective tool that can be effectively used again and again.

Such tools can lead agencies to close investigations sooner and assist law enforcement professionals in the most complex cases. Here are four of the most useful law enforcement reference apps I've encountered:

Officer's Guide to Recovered Firearms

The International Association of Chiefs of Police has made ATF's Police Officer's Guide to Recovered Firearms available for iOS (iPhone and iPad), Android, and BlackBerry. The app, developed by Purple Forge, helps officers recover firearms by identifying and describing guns in detail. It covers information on locating serial numbers on firearms and helps officers interpret the results of a firearm query from NCIC. This technology can help get criminals off the streets, as well as identify people who are prohibited from carrying unlawful weapons. The app uses a database format to make it easier for officers to monitor and organize firearms. It comes in four languages, and the best part is it's free.


HeartStart, an iPad app from Philips HealthCare, could help you save a life. When someone goes into cardiac arrest, this app helps you understand the how-to of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) and teaches you basic guidelines for saving a life with Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). While the app is useful for its educational value, its true worth is in giving you the knowledge of a skill you can carry with you in the event of an emergency.

Police Miranda Warning

This iOS app for iPhone and iPad was developed by an active officer—Indianapolis Metro PD's Ronald Shelnutt—to serve as a quick reference for field officers on the Miranda Warning. It provides even more value with a daytime display for day-shift officers, an easily readable display for nighttime operations, a talk-in Google translate feature, and an FBI Top Ten Most Wanted link. Police officers no longer need Miranda cards if they have this app.

Vehicle Identification System

The Vehicle Identification System app from Ten 8 Industries, compatible with iOS (iPhone and iPad), Android, and Windows Mobile, is an officer's helpful guide to classifying makes and models. This app helps officers identify vehicles through corroboration of witness testimony regarding suspect vehicles. The app's extensive database includes every vehicle make and model from the past decade. Such a tool can help an officer track down a vehicle during an investigation's most critical phase. If a witness doesn't quite know the exact model or make of the getaway vehicle, an officer could use this app as a visual aid to help the witness quickly identify the vehicle.

Editor's note: Want reviews and news about law enforcement mobile apps? Click here.

Logan Harper is the community relations coordinator for UNC-Chapel Hill's Masters of Public Administration program. Read about the university's LE app here.

Comments (8)

Displaying 1 - 8 of 8

Lt Dan @ 6/14/2013 3:44 AM

In the academy we were taught that the reason we had Miranda cards was so that we could testify that we read the warning exactly as it was written, that we didn't do if from memory. We were also taught to NEVER staple it or tape it into a notebook but to take it out of your front pocket and hold JUST THE CARD while reading the warning.

I just have to wonder if a defense attorney (and I would do this) would try to introduce the cell phone and ALL of its contents and browsing history and address book into evidence upon learning that the Miranda Warning came from an Iphone.

Jason Robert @ 6/14/2013 12:47 PM

@ LT Dan. Based on your logic do you think the defense should introduce the radio the officer heard the call on or the MDC the officer read about the call on? Are they going to introduce the internet service provider or the radio tower? A cell phone is a communication device, nothing more.

ZDS @ 6/15/2013 1:07 AM

What about the U.S. Cop app? It contains Miranda, as well as pill imprint identifier, case law on a range of topics, contact info for insurance and credit card companies (although I did find a number was no longer good), and a variety of other tools. I won't say I use it every day, but it was definitely worth the buy!

Dan @ 6/15/2013 3:42 AM

Yes, a good defense attorney, who wants to dig for the sake of digging, will request the device used to reference the Miranda Warning. If you use your phone for work related issues, it can and will be used in court. In our reports with my dept, we specifically state, "I read (suspect) his Miranda Rights from my DEPARTMENT issued Miranda Card,..." and then I take that card with me to court. Remember, if the defense finds anything in your phone leading to your honesty or integrity, they will use it. Just like they used FACEBOOK comments about the officer who said he watched TRAINING DAY for a refresher on good cop tactics. His case was dismissed by the court due to his comment about learning bad tactics from a movie. And yes, a better defense attorney will request dispatch audio and call history if they think it will help them. We have had defense attorneys request logs from our JAIL MGT system to show prejudice about incarcerated gang members and how their safety was put at risk because the information was listed on the computer. I agree with LT one this one. APPS can make our jobs easier, but if you use your personal cell for work, it is subject to subpeona if you mention you used it to perform your job duties so be careful.

Jason @ 6/16/2013 7:55 PM

Next time you go to a police training class and your instructor gives a break, 95% of the officers will check their cell phones. A cell phone full of use full apps is here to stay. Guys should use common sense and don't mention using their phones.

20 years ago, did you write in your report "I used my Thomas guide" to find the address. So if an officer in 2013 would not say, "I used Google navigation on my personal cell phone"

Not to mention, I have heard a lot guys who claim they've heard of a personal phone being discovered or used in court. But they never actually knew them. I work at a PD with 1,000 sworn in California and it has never actually happened here.

Bill @ 6/20/2013 8:10 AM

I may be as guilty of over-blowing the phone thing as much as anybody, but have never heard of a case in which it happened. It probably stems from the old "don't take you entire notebook to the witness stand" routine. If the defense were to request access to the entire book, or phone, or MDT out of the car or radio system, or whatever, a smart prosecutor will object for relevance, and if the judge even entertains the motion, he or she can study the device and determine what may be relevant and admissible or not.

Like concerns about digital photography, we and the legal community are about 2 centuries behind everybody else when it comes to recognizing that technology changes and we don't have to do it the way we've always done it. If that were so, we'd all be carrying cap and ball revolvers.

In reality, your phone probably shouldn't be in court anyway if you are there to testify. You probably run a greater risk of forgetting to silence it and getting sent to a corner to think about how rude you were, or violating local rules about having them.

Lee @ 6/27/2013 12:28 AM

Lt Dan is right.....It has happened to a couple people I know, and not even from something extensive...Reading Miranda from your phone would open a whole new world for an attorney....

Benois @ 1/27/2014 1:46 AM

Secure Access Technologies (.com) enables to secure any iOS application with the officer’s mobile phone.
The app locks when the officer goes away, and only unlocks when the officer is in proximity.
True multi-factor authentication for iOS apps.

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