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NYCLU Takes on Police Misconduct With 'Stop & Frisk' App

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In an effort to empower residents against the NYPD’s controversial “Stop-and-Frisk” policies, the New York Civil Liberties Union just released a free Android (GOOG) mobile app called “Stop & Frisk Watch,” enabling citizens to easily document police procedures, the Verge reports.  

The app, designed with speed and simplicity in mind, works by automatically sending your geotagged videos directly to the NYCLU. Text fields allow the user to include additional details (like a particular officer’s name or badger number), while the “Listen” function sends alerts when other stop-and-frisk maneuvers have occurred nearby.

Other features of the app include a “shake to stop recording” function, and the ability to automatically password-lock your phone after you do so. A potentially useful feature because, as the Verge notes, the courts have often ruled in favor of the police’s right to search a suspect’s phone after an arrest.

The app cannot make covert recordings, but it shouldn’t have to: The right to record on-duty officers is legally protected.

Controversy over the department’s tactics stem from some troubling statistics relating to the program’s effectiveness in reducing crime and to the individuals it seems to largely target.      Last year, out of the 685,724 reported incidents, only around 10% ended with a ticket or arrest, and critics claim the majority of those stopped were reportedly young Latinos and African-Americans. Although the stated purpose of stop-and-frisk is to reduce violent gun crime, in the ten years since the program was enacted the number of shooting victims has largely stayed level, while incidents of Frisk’s usage has climbed more than 600%.

In a statement released on their website, the ACLU states that “the videos videos and surveys we collect through Stop and Frisk Watch will go beyond the data to illustrate how this humiliating and abusive tactic corrodes trust between police and communities. This will help us fight for change.”

An iPhone (AAPL) version of the app is coming this summer.
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