While most U.S. police departments updated their technology years ago, San Francisco’s didn’t until six months ago, says the Wall Street Journal. In April, the 2,400-member department hired a chief information officer for the first time. Pilot email and voice-mail programs for each officer have since been installed in two of the department’s 10 stations, and the new systems will hit remaining stations in the next year.
Hampered by a tight budget, San Francisco police forwent email and voice mail and operated in what officers referred to as the Stone Age. Each station had a single email address, and most officers received messages on bulletin boards. When residents wanted to follow up on a case or query, they had to set up an appointment via a station’s single telephone line or write a letter and mail it. “I can’t think of a department that I’ve consulted with in the last 10 years, regardless of its size, that didn’t have email accounts,” said Mike Carpenter of the New York-based police consulting firm Police Management Services LLC. He added that most police departments provided email to their workers more than a decade ago so officers could connect more easily with constituents and each other.