Here’s How You Convince Skeptical Cops To Use iPhone, iPad Apps



You think your users are hard to please? Try cops, says Travis Taniguchi.

He’s a police criminologist for the Redlands Police Department in California, and one of the driving forces behind an iPhone and iPad app-friendly police department. Cops are not only skeptical, but armed.

“You want to talk hostile customers or end users? You don’t get more hostile than a cop,” Taniguchi joked.”They do that lean back thing, then they put a hand on their gun. It’s not easy.”

As the only “suit” on an Appnation Enterprise Summit panel about upstarts – he was gently ribbed by other panelists about not following the casual jeans-and-blazer mandate – he gave some interesting insights about how police departments can implement mobile apps.

The Redlands Police Department was featured in an upbeat Apple business profile for its innovative use of iPhone and iPad apps, but the behind-the-scenes story described by Taniguchi will sound familiar to a lot of companies trying to get customers or employees to use mobile apps. (Except your users aren’t armed, we hope.)

“Tech is great, if it’s already there and works, if not, they don’t want it,” he said. “It can be slow going. First, no one wanted a radio in the car, then they didn’t want phones or computers. Now a car is deadlined if it doesn’t have a computer.”

What wins them over? Show, don’t tell.

Taniguchi and his boss started out with federal grants to develop small projects they thought would simplify the everyday work of police, like a Field Contact app for data collection on the road. Then they went back to the cops to find out what else they wanted – including apps that help create flyers or wanted bulletins on the fly.

“We focused on bunch of smaller apps to demonstrate that they were useful before tackling huge projects; these demo projects were very helpful,” he said.

Taniguchi believes that law enforcement and government are still largely untapped markets for mobile apps, but you have to know how to handle them.

“It can be hard to break into, there a lot of old school policies that are state or county-driven, If you can find a champion inside the organization, it can be worthwhile.”

  • RobertSantellan

    I live near Redlands and if there was any Police Department that could benefit from the use of iPhones and iPads, it is definitely Redlands and all other P.D.’s in the Inland Empire area which is where Redlands, Fontana, San Bernardino, Rialto and several other high-crime rate cities are located.

  • opticalserenity

    That ugly UI on the screenshot to the right is certainly not iOS. What an insult to iOS to post a screenshot from a disgusting Android device. Yuck.

  • Lincoln Hales

    I’m in law enforcement and we all have iphones and or android devices and could greatly use apps for our line of work.  In my opinion this is a huge market that has not been tapped

  • CaveMan5464

    U rock! :-)
    Thanks for keeping it safe for all is fanboys out there!!!

  • Robert Duke

    I worked at RPD in the day.  We had CAD and MDT’s in the Mid-1980’s.  We were always cutting edge and never resistant to technology.  Jim Buerrmann, Clete Hyman and others were innovators and leaders in the field and most officers were very supportive of their ideas.