The New York chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has released an Android application allowing mobile-phone users to easily capture police patdowns on video, which is then automatically uploaded to the rights group’s servers.
The “Stop & Frisk Watch” application, which is soon coming to the iPhone, is in response to the New York Police Department having stopped, frisked and interrogated people at least 685,724 times last year alone. About 87 percent of those stopped were black or Latino, and 90 percent of those stopped were neither ticketed nor arrested.
The app is programmed to work only in New York City, and has three functions:
The “record” section allows easy video recording, which stops when the phone is shaken or when a button is pressed. The video is not stored on the phone, and instead is immediately uploaded to the New York ACLU. The app can also program your phone to automatically lock when recording is finished.
Once the video is uploaded, the app asks for information about where the images were taken, officers involved and other details of the incident. This “report” function also works without video being taken.
The app’s “listen” function provides real-time mapping of where others are using the app to record police.
Lauren Alexander, an ACLU spokeswoman, said that, for the moment, the video footage is mostly for documentary purposes, but could be used as evidence for civil rights litigation.
“We’re trying to get at the fact that a lot of innocent people are being a target,” she said in a telephone interview. “We kind of want to shine a light on why this is an abusive policy, to put an actual visual experience as to what it is like to be stopped and frisked and harassed by police.”
The rights group built the app with Brooklyn-based visual artist Jason Van Anden. He is also a software engineer who created the Occupy Wall Street application “I’m Getting Arrested.”
Videos can be uploaded with or without your name attached to it, but either way they become the property of the ACLU. The app can be downloaded to any Android phone, but only functions in the New York City area.