Thursday, June 6, 2013

App for that

Wandering through police headquarters yesterday, I spotted an employee using a paper cutter--something you don't see much these days.  She was trimming up a block of text, the make a pocket-sized set of instructions for conducting the walk-and-turn test, which is part of field sobriety testing for drunk driving suspects. "How old school," I said.  Turns out she was doing this as a favor for an officer, because she happened to have access to a laminator.

When I was a street cop, I had all sorts of little cards, maps, and cheat sheets: Miranda warnings, phone numbers, dictation guides, you name it. I'd type something up, or cut it out of some other document, then stop by Latsch's on my day off to get it laminated for a few cents.  I carried these in the back of my notebook, which rested in the left rear pocket of my uniform trousers, or jam them into the trim below the headliner in my patrol car.  I even cut up a paper map of the City into several tiles and had them laminated.

But hey, that was the 70s and 80s.  Nowadays, I'd be carrying such stuff around as an app on my smartphone. I figured for sure that there had to be an app with the NHTSA field sobriety instructions, so I searched and found several, including just what I was looking for. You wouldn't really need to part with 99 cents though, because you could tap in the instructions as a memo, and just use that. The nice thing about having such things as an app on a smartphone, is that you wouldn't need your flashlight to read the card.


Anonymous said...

But what happens when the battery is kaput?

Gun Nut

Anonymous said...

If you are needing to read these from an app or a card instead of doing it from memory, your officer safety is lacking, as well as your opportunity to observe the driver's behavior. Sounds like a poor recommendation to me.

Anonymous said...

If it's on your phone and you are asked in court to show it, does that not make the rest of your phone open to discovery also?

Better to have a laminated card in your pocket marked in such a way as you can positively identify it in court I would think.

Anonymous said...

I worked several DWI's over several years in law enforcement and always read from a card. This way when I went to trial I could tell the jury and prosecutor how I explained the tests. Although I knew them anyway sometimes you speak faster than you think, so this helped me out. I never got assaulted and still could observe the behavior. That's why cops usually multitask. If you get assaulted reading a DWI card then you'd probably get assaulted on a parking call.