A new government program is offering free cell phones for the poor and the homeless in California.
Some think it's a great idea, but some police are worried about the potential for increased crime because of the phones.
The free phones are because of a recently expanded state program. Two California carriers will provide free phones and service to those who can prove they make less than $14,072 a year. Those who qualify will get 250 minutes and 250 text messages a month.
The new program is raising red flags with local law enforcement officials.
Sgt. Mark Hudson with the Fresno Police Department said, "Certainly if a criminal has access to a phone, it's going to give him better ability to contact other criminals."
They're concerned the program could be abused by crooks and that bad guys could use the free phones to network. "Certainly this allows that network to get a lot tighter to where you know you can access other criminal information." said Sgt. Hudson.
Police say they already deal with cases where Valley residents are being targeted by crooks who steal cell phones to commit crimes. "It's something that we're always dealing with. Certainly these criminals are always trying to get access to phones," said Sgt. Hudson.
"Phones, in this case, for people having access to emergency services, are certainly good ideas. The problem is when the phones are in the hands of criminals, said Sgt. Hudson.
The program is partially funded by the FCC's LifeLine program. ReachOut Wireless and Assurance Wireless are providing the free phones.