New York councilman Daniel Dromm proposed new legislation yesterday that would force the NYPD to cease the use of typewriters. That's right, while the Met Police in Blighty fancy a "Total Technology" approach, New York's force still have typewriters in all of its 77 precincts.
It seems absurd that it does despite, y'know, computers. The New York Post reports that certain forms still need to be typed manually in ink because they haven't been digitised, too. They're never entered into a computer at all. Lose the form? It's gone. Forever. The use of typewriters isn't just a waste of time in stations, it's also bad for citizens who need to show up to the station to get certain forms.
And apparently, it's common knowledge that police stations still use typewriters. This comes up every couple of years when a constituent complains about a lost form or incident report. Dromm says he came up with his bill after a constituent was assaulted and their only copy of the criminal report on the incident was lost.
Also, this topic comes up whenever the price tag of maintenance comes up. In 2009, there was a dustup over a $1 million in contracts to two vendors for the purchase of new typewriters and maintenance of the NYPD's existing fleet. A million bucks!
Former mayor Michael Bloomberg's 2012 comments about the city's use of typewriters is emblematic of the justification for keeping the tech around. He told CBS:
"They still have a function and your belief that typewriters have gone away is just erroneous. There are companies that make typewriters around the world," Bloomberg said. "It's like books. Some people, believe it or not, still read books in paper."
The argument goes that they still exist and thus they should exist. Well not so fast, Bloomberg. Books with bindings have real use and value and probably will never die. In the face of better technology, you need a reason to keep typewriters alive.
Yes, some intelligence agencies are turning to typewriters as a way to thwart espionage, but there is no point in using an old clicky-clack mechanical typing machine for the maintenance of simple bureaucracy.
"There's no a reason a police officer can't type up a report and put it into a computer," says Dromm. That seems pretty reasonable. [New York Post]