illustration by Jeff Mangiat

The Dallas Police Department’s New App

A review by the La Familia drug cartel.

Dear trusted colleagues:

For a few weeks now I’ve been fielding e-mails and texts from La Familia Associates asking how we plan to respond to iWatch, the Dallas Police Department’s new crime-fighting smartphone app. If you haven’t yet downloaded it, I encourage you to do so. You’ll find it at Remember, there is a reason we offer all reps a $50 monthly allowance for smartphone usage. Take advantage of this program. And while I’m on the subject, please save your receipts if you want to be reimbursed for prepaid cellphones (aka “burners”). Accounting will not process your expense reports without a receipt.

First, I want to assure everyone in the Organization that Senior Management is very optimistic about the future. Our Associates in the United States continue to do great work, moving more product than ever in a very challenging economic climate. Which is not to diminish the efforts of our Team here in Mexico. Bribes continue to work. Violence is up. The shootings and the beheadings have gone a long way toward helping us to make our 2010 goals. And I have no doubt that in 2011 La Familia will expand its reach and maintain its reputation in the industry as the most feared, most successful drug cartel in Latin and North America.

Keep up the hard work. Screw those punk-ass Los Zetas. We will slaughter them! I mean that literally!

As for the iWatch app itself, we have thoroughly tested it and have come to the conclusion that it is like the teeth of a borrowed goat. My assistant says this traditional Mexican term of disparagement does not translate directly into English. If you prefer: iWatch sucks. When we launched the app for the first time, we thought it might be an elaborate joke.

The idea is that users will report possible crime-related activity to the police using iWatch. We figured it would be sort of like Foursquare or Waze, a social media tool that would allow users to communicate with the police and with each other. Maybe there would be a cool map feature that would show crime hot spots in real time.

Instead, here’s what we found: the launch screen displays a poorly rendered DPD badge with the iWatch logo. One person on our Executive Research Committee suggested that the DPD must have a time machine, and they must have used that time machine to travel back to 1985 and solicit design submissions from people on a CompuServe message board.

From the launch screen, the user is taken to a disclaimer agreement of sorts that promises the following: “Tips submitted through this app are encrypted, entirely confidential, completely anonymous, and are immediately and securely transferred directly to the Dallas Police Department.” We assumed the overuse of adverbs means that statement is totally and completely a lie.

After the user agrees to the disclaimer, he comes to the heart of the app: a text box. That’s all iWatch does. It lets you send a text to the cops. We initially thought we were missing something. We tapped every part of the screen, figuring we’d overlooked a feature. But no. That’s it.

Oh, boy, did we have a good chuckle! After we stopped laughing, everyone on the Executive Research Committee ripped up some lines of the purest coke you’ve ever tried in your whole life, much better than that stuff we cut with pool chalk and sell to the gringos, and we took turns doing Al Pacino from Scarface. “You wanna play games? Okay. You wanna play rough? Say hello to my little friend!” Don’t you just love that movie? Then we all got on the App Store and gave iWatch a bunch of negative one-star reviews. “This app does not work, you cockroaches! OMG! I downloaded it and reported that I suspected my neighbor was selling drugs because his pants are always sagging and because his Monte Carlo has new rims. And also because he’s a member of the Juarez Cartel! Nothing happened. Don’t even bother with this stupid app!” Stuff like that.

But we’re not stopping there. As ineffectual as we think iWatch will be in changing the marketplace, it taught us a lesson. La Familia needs a better digital strategy. We have formed a Digital Platform Exploration Committee that will analyze our needs and partner with the best developers in the business. The Committee’s work has just begun, but I will share this early finding with you: going through Apple’s App Store is a strategic error. Those Cupertino bitches take forever to approve updates. La Familia’s solution? HTML5. Mobile web, baby!
I trust you to keep this in the strictest confidence.

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