On Saturday, Ismaaiyl Brinsley shot his ex-girlfriend in Baltimore County, then headed north with the intention of killing police officers. (He later shot and killed two.) The Baltimore County Police Department was able to trace Brinsley’s cell phone to see that he was in Brooklyn, so they knew they had to get in touch with the NYPD ASAP.
So what did they do? They sent a fax. And then they sent a teletype. Yes, a teletype. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a teletype machine, except in old movies–but apparently the BCPD still has one, and they’re still using it. It reminds me of that scene in the first season of The Wire (set in 2002), in which the cops are painstakingly typing out their reports… on a typewriter.
There’s a serious downside to this outdated technology, and not just because it makes the BCPD seem behind the times. As Slate points out, these technologies have serious security risks, and may have contributed to the difference in timelines between the BCPD (which says it faxed a wanted poster at 2:10 PM) and the NYPD (which says it didn’t get the fax until 2:45 PM).
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