NEW YORK (PIX11) — NYPD officers are on their phones for a reason, the union representing them said after Mayor Eric Adams criticized cops spotted standing around looking at IPhones.

Smartphones were distributed to all officers so they can get up-to-date information for fighting crime, according to the city. Per a city website, their usage is “permanently improving all field work in the New York City Police Department.” Officers were ordered to carry and use the phones, Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said.

“We are now required to document every minute of our tour on these phones. Every form we are required to fill out and every alert we receive comes through the phone,” he said. “If there’s a problem with cops using the phone on duty, NYPD management should change the policies and go back to pen and paper.”

But Mayor Adams said he wants New Yorkers to send him pictures of officers they spot standing around on their phones in subway stations. He said it’s not uncommon to see a group of transit officers hanging out by the booth. Some officers have told him it’s frustrating when they see cops not doing their jobs.

“We are going to start taking very aggressive actions to make sure police are patrolling our subway system and and not patrolling their iPhones,” Adams said. “You are going to see a visual difference in policing in the next couple of weeks.”

Adams has no issue with officers using their phones for legitimate, work-related reasons, mayoral spokesperson Fabien Levy said. His issue is with people using personal phones while on the job.

“This is a tactical problem that could possibly pose a risk to both the officer and to members of the public,” Levy said. “This is exactly why the mayor is working with the police commissioner and the chief of transit to come up with a plan to ensure our officers are 100 percent focused on their tasks when on patrol and not looking down at phones unless necessary to do the job.”

Adams has said repeatedly that he supports police officers and wants to make sure they have the resources they need for their jobs. Per the city, NYPD-issued smart phones allow for:

  • Expanded search capabilities
  • Access to many NYPD databases
  • Real-time 911 data along with the distribution of wanted posters, Amber Alerts, and missing person alerts
  • Officers to update information from the field