Thursday, November 02, 2006

What's Wrong With The PPD?

Today I was working in the detective division when a phone call (one of hundreds) came in. The complainant asked to speak with a detective who was on his day off. The complainant then asked if she could be connected with the detective's voice mail. I started to laugh.

Only it wasn't very funny.

You see, the Philadelphia Police Department is stuck in a technology time warp. According to the last few administrations, the year is 1979. Pong took the nation by storm, Sister Sledge's "We Are Family" topped the charts, and the Commodore Vic 20 was the wave of the future. Even the simplest of tools, such as voice mail, are foreign to the city's six detective divisions. And for the nation's fifth largest police department, this is inexcusable.

In my detective division, voice mail is the stuff of fantasy. With sixty detectives handling 15,000 jobs in a year, phone calls from victims and witnesses are the norm. Many times, the pertinent detective has the day off or is on the street. Voice mail would make all of our lives easier . . . which is probably why the city refuses to purchase a system.

And if voice mail is out of the question, internet access and e-mail accounts are just whistling Dixie. Many times other jurisdictions or outside investigators request to send us information about a certain job. Snail mail takes too long, and faxing large amounts of data is tricky at best. E-mail and internet access would do the trick, and its benefits would surely outweigh any costs. Hell, e-mail accounts are free in many cases! The sad part is that many administrative personnel at police headquarters have e-mail accounts, while the investigators get jack. It's insanity.

Now don't get me wrong; I am not calling for cellphones, voice mail, and internet access for every member of the department, but is it too much to ask for the investigatory units? As long as this department is relying on the tools of the past, it will never catch up to the future.

And my city's police department will continue to be a laughing stock.

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