The ACLU of Northern California launched a free cell phone recording app Thursday which would allow people to record and send videos to their local ACLU affiliates when they feel their rights are being violated by police.
The app comes as protests decrying police violence are taking over the country, most recently for the controversial death of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old man who died after suffering a spinal cord injury in Baltimore.
The Mobile Justice app is unique in the sense that it will allow videos captured by the app to be preserved in the case police seize or destroy the device.
“The concerns over police practices, including racial profiling and excessive use of force, are very real for communities across the state,” said Hector Villagra, executive director of the ACLU of Southern California. “This app will help serve as a check on abuse — whether by police officers, sheriff’s deputies, border patrol, or other officials — allowing ordinary citizens to record and document any interaction with law enforcement.”
The app, which can be downloaded through Apple's App store or Google Play, lets users register, record, witness and report interactions with law enforcement officials, ACLU said.
“From Rodney King to Walter Scott, we’ve seen video bring police abuse into public view that otherwise could have gone ignored,” said Peter Bibring, director of police practices at the ACLU SoCal. “Helping the public record law enforcement will help deter misconduct and document abuse when it does happen, so both officers and the criminal justice system can be held accountable.”
Video of a police officer shooting Walter Scott in South Carolina when Scott appeared to be unarmed shocked the entire nation and sparked protests. The officer involved in the incident was later charged with murder.
"People using their camera phone to record police interactions with members of the public can be hugely powerful -- can reveal the truth that would otherwise be concealed," said Michael Risher, an ACLU senior staff attorney.
For more information on the app, visit the ACLU website.