View Full Version : NYPD Wastes $1m on Relics

July 17th, 2009, 07:47 AM

July 13, 2009


http://www.nypost.com/seven/07132009/photos/006_barney_miller.jpg (http://javascript%3Cb%3E%3C/b%3E:SLIDES.hotlink%28%29)

SHEET WORK: NYPD cops say filing paperwork today on typewriters is still an inefficient time waster -- just as it was 30 years ago on the sitcom "Barney Miller" (above).

The city is plunking down nearly $1 million on typewriters for its keystroke cops.

That's right -- typewriters.

Despite the adoption of high-tech equipment that can read license plates from the air and detect radiological events before they happen, manual and electric typewriters continue to be used throughout the NYPD -- and they won't be phased out anytime soon, officials told The Post.

In fact, just last year, the city signed a $982,269 contract with New Jersey-based Swintec for the purchase of thousands of new manual and electric typewriters over the next three years -- some of which retail for as much as $649 apiece.

And last month, the city signed a $99,570 deal with Afax Business Machines in Manhattan for the maintenance of its existing Brother, Panasonic and IBM Selectric typewriters.

In both cases, NYPD expenditures account for the bulk of the contract, sources told The Post.

Although most of the NYPD's arrest-report forms have been computerized, cops still use typewriters to fill out property and evidence vouchers, which are printed on carbon-paper forms.

There are typewriters in every police precinct, including one in every detective squad.

"It just doesn't make sense that we can't enter these [vouchers] on computer," one cop told The Post.

When the typewriter ribbons run out, as they often do, officers say the search for a working machine turns into a scene right of the '70s sitcom "Barney Miller."

"We have to sneak around the rest of the precinct in search of a ribbon to steal," a cop said.

The reliance on typewriters contributes to the slow pace of processing arrests, said Dr. Edith Linn, a retired NYPD cop and professor of criminal justice at Berkeley College in Manhattan.

"The system is hobbled by redundant paperwork, misused personnel, broken equipment, backward technology," Linn says in her 2008 book "Arrest Decisions."

Of the roughly 500 NYPD officers Linn interviewed for a study on arrest behavior, many mentioned the outdated equipment as part of their reason for being averse to making arrests for less serious crimes.

But the few typewriter companies still in existence aren't complaining.
Ed Michaels, sales manager of Swintec, said police departments are among its biggest clients.

"They have a lot of forms to fill out, so we're still here," he said.

The NYPD insists it has made progress over the past five years digitizing many processing forms.

The department also is working on software to eliminate the old machines, a rep said.


July 17th, 2009, 09:08 AM
Loved that show.

The problem is simple. Can you imagine how expensive it would be to get a bureaucracy like ours to set up a computerized system?

In the long run it would save us millions, but in the short run, between setting up and networking, installation and TRAINING, we are talking a budget nightmare for one, or several fiscal years......

SO like most problems, doesn't matter than spending a million on it NOW will save us $250K/year for 10 years, keep spending the $250K because no-one wants that $1M on their political bill.

July 17th, 2009, 11:56 AM
This should have been done at least ten years ago.

July 17th, 2009, 12:48 PM
Cops like it that way as it is more labor intensive.

July 18th, 2009, 12:32 AM
Let's not be too hasty in our judgment. Typewriters may be OLD technology, but they still work, and they are exactly the right tool for certain functions. It is still hard to beat a beautifully working IBM Selectric III, the gold standard for typewriters. "Old school" still rocks, and by the way... we got to the Moon using typewriters and carbon paper.

July 18th, 2009, 06:10 AM
We got to California with the pony express. :confused:

July 18th, 2009, 01:25 PM
...which brings up the root question: at one point is a certain technology "obsolete?" I would suggest typewriters are not obsolete, they are simply an OLDER form of technology. The old dog ain't dead, just yet.

July 20th, 2009, 09:01 AM
It is very near dead Bob.

It is innefficient, and you cannot correct errors on carbon paper. It is slow to file, and there is no efficient way to distribut and/or access these records from other precincts until they are, go figure, scanned and placed on a database.

But, like I said, it will take more than $1M to buy new equipment, set up the networking, and most importantly TRAIN the personnel to use it properly. So, again, no politician wants to spend money NOW that will save later. That is the problem with our system, that even if something will benefit in the long run, politicians do not want to risk ANYTHING that will not show positive gains before re-election.

Gregory Tenenbaum
July 20th, 2009, 11:37 AM
If there is a large scale power outage in the city, these things will still work. Yes, they have backup power, and if that goes out?

It reminds me of the German Army in WWII. The petrol supply/manufacture was afflicted, so they developed steam engine technology to a point not seen before in history for their locomotives. And it worked.

Nothing wrong with a typewriter, unless you think anything written in an office before 1980 is somehow not as good as present day product. A disciplined worker wouldnt have a problem using one.

July 20th, 2009, 05:18 PM
And we all know where those locomotives were headed. :(

July 20th, 2009, 05:44 PM
The NYPD dicks should bring back the fedora.

Gregory Tenenbaum
July 21st, 2009, 01:31 AM

Usually in puffs of smoke at the mercy of 8 50 cals on a P47. I know a guy credited with destroying dozens of locomotives.

They were used to transport troops, materiel etc, and prisoners, yes, but the point is that old technology was actually redeveloped and made better at a time when it was considered old hat.

There's nothing wrong with a typewriter.

July 21st, 2009, 02:12 AM
Or smoke signals! ;)

July 21st, 2009, 09:23 AM
Typewriters are too modern. Hell, PENCILS are too modern! They should be writing stuff with a quill and ink, like in the old days! Yeah!

We need blotters back!

Hell, a fireplace in every precinct so they have plenty of charred sticks to write with!!!!

Gregory Tenenbaum
July 21st, 2009, 11:50 AM
Nothing wrong with pens and pencils either.

USAF Pilots still use them to supplement their glass cockpit navigation, and use pens/pencils to mark on their knee maps.

Here's one from 'Nam


and USN pilots still use morse code. ;)

July 23rd, 2009, 11:59 PM
Come to think of it, LPs were cool, and still ARE. You can't slow down a digital recording but playing anything at the wrong speed is lots of fun. For about 2 minutes.

Cinerama is "obsolete" but that sure would make for a great comeback, eh?

July 24th, 2009, 12:36 AM
with the right program you CAN slow down a digital recording ;)
I use a new updated wave MP3 editor by DAK that does just that!

July 24th, 2009, 09:04 AM
with the right program you CAN slow down a digital recording ;)
I use a new updated wave MP3 editor by DAK that does just that!

You have also been able to do that with video. Some video playing at 2x by leaving out every other frame, etc. The cool thing is that the voices are at the same pitch (although a little choppy).

I think there is also a few proggies (even free) that do this transposition regardless of the speed you are playing. With all this digital music, DJ's have needed this for years!