In only a few years, it's become standard practice to ask, about almost any field: Is there an app for that? And indeed, applications for smartphones have revolutionized the way many people access and track information.
It is therefore scarcely surprising that New York City's stop-and-frisk policing practices should draw attention from application developers. Those practices have resulted in numerous questionable arrests for low-level marijuana possession and other minor offenses.
The app was developed by the New York Civil Liberties Union. It is called, naturally enough, the Stop and Frisk Watch app. The NYCLU intends for the app to make it easy for ordinary citizens to document and report misconduct by police.
The Stop and Frisk Watch app launched for Android phones in June of last year. It became available yesterday for the iPhone.
Here's how the app works. You just need to tap it to start recording a video. To stop recording, you shake it. Then you enter relevant information and where and what you saw and press send.
The information goes to the NYCLU, which reviews each video. The NYCLU also investigates reports of police misconduct to the extent that resources permit.
There have already been 5,000 videos submitted since the app was launched for Android. And now that it's on iPhones the ability to document police misconduct incidents will be increased.
NYCLU says there has not yet been a completely-over-the-top, Rodney King-type moment in the submissions so far. But the data from Stop and Frisk watch has corroborated many of the concerns that New Yorkers have about stop-and-frisk abuse. Among the videos submitted to date, the NYCLU says there have been 200 incidents of such abuse.
Source: "The App That Watches The Police has More Eyes Than Ever," BuzzFeed, Justine Sharrock, 2-7-13
Our firm handles situations similar to those discussed in this post. To learn more about our practice, please visit our New York police misconduct page.