Police radios allow for a wider dissemination of information -- whether it be to alert officers about a suspect on the run in a developing crime or advise responders of plainclothes cops in the area -- and ensures communication runs through supervisors.
"Cellular phones are not a substitute for the use of department radios and [officers] are required to use department radios for communications in the field whenever possible," the Sept. 11 memo obtained by the Daily News reads. "The use of department radios for communication contributes to officer safety."
Sources told the News cell phones don't provide the same type of electronic record police radios do. Cell phones also may not work as efficiently in certain areas, like in the subway system.
One source told the paper the prevalence of cell phone use stems from a younger generation of officers used to relying on their handheld devices.
The NYPD's chief spokesman, John McCarthy, told the News cell phone use may be appropriate in certain situations -- sensitive details like victims' names shouldn't be broadcast over the radio waves, which media monitor, for example -- but that officers are asked to use their police radios whenever possible.
McCarthy said there wasn't any particular incident that prompted the directive.