| NEW YORK, June 29
NEW YORK, June 29 Bill Bratton, the high-profile
police commissioner who has run three of America's largest
police forces, is preparing to launch the first comprehensive
social media network for police officers - a kind of Facebook
The network, known as BlueLine, will be launched globally at
the International Association of Police Chiefs annual conference
in Philadelphia in October.
BlueLine is part of a growing trend in high-tech
information-sharing among law enforcement agencies that
proponents say is producing a force-multiplying effect on
crime-fighting in an era of dwindling police budgets and
manpower. The collaboration enables better communication between
different jurisdictions and helps police identify patterns of
Combining the most popular user functions of a number of
leading social media sites, BlueLine is being billed by Bratton
as the first secure network for cops. It's also a safer
alternative for a younger generation of officers who Bratton
says share a shocking amount of information on public networks.
"If you're a SWAT officer, gives you the ability
to find other SWAT officers in departments around the country
and engage them, share best practices, talk about innovations,"
Bratton told Reuters recently.
The for-profit company behind BlueLine, Bratton
Technologies, was founded to develop the proprietary product,
and aims to generate revenue from a spectrum of cop-related
products - everything "from socks to Glocks," said BT Chief
Strategy Officer Jack Weiss.
The network is being beta-tested this summer among about 100
officers in the Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles
Sheriff's Department and the University of Southern California
Several dozen more police departments will join the beta
test later this summer, said Bratton, who is BT's chief
Most existing law enforcement information-sharing networks
involve sharing intelligence about specific cases, while
BlueLine is geared toward collaboration on policing issues like
gangs or drugs and product and technology advances.
Bratton has led the New York, Los Angeles and Boston police
departments and was responsible in 1995 for introducing Compstat
- a groundbreaking software-driven, crime-fighting strategy that
mapped crime patterns and enabled real-time deployment of
forces. For him, "collaboration is the key to successful
BlueLine includes the key elements and the look of Facebook,
with "like" and "share" buttons and the ability to post
messages, photos or video clips on a wall visible to other
The network also features secure videoconferencing
capabilities and an iTunes-like app store open to third-party
developers. A commercial component will allow companies that
make policing products to market them directly to members of the
roughly 18,000 state and local law enforcement agencies in the
United States and beyond.
The startup is being funded by G2 Investment Group, said G2
Chief Executive Officer Todd Morley. Bratton declined to say how
much capital was involved.
CROWDSOURCING COP COMMUNITIES
Open only to accredited law enforcement officers, BlueLine
users can create or join customized groups, with names like
Gangs, Narcotics, New Technology or Sex Crimes - and then
"crowdsource" colleagues for help with general aspects of
One group might discuss the benefits and drawbacks of a new
type of police radio, or a new drug that has hit the streets of
If a gangs investigator in one department comes across an
unfamiliar tattoo on a suspected gang member, the cop can post
it to a Gangs network, and someone from another department may
help identify it as the sign of a new crew. Members can search
for each other by name, geography, expertise and interest.
Data analytics companies are developing BlueLine
applications, which will let users create databases - of gang
tattoos or graffiti tags, for instance - and analyze them.
BlueLine will operate a secured network requiring multiple
verifications to join, with protocols based on the FBI's
Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) guidelines,
established to ensure secure transmission of criminal case
information online, said David Riker, president of Bratton
"This is not intended to replace strategic police
communications capabilities," said Bratton. "It is primarily for
people to find each other," he said. "We are quite clear about
the guardrails we are staying within."
(Reporting by Chris Francescani; Editing by Arlene Getz,
Douglas Royalty and Prudence Crowther)