An ACLU App for your smartphone promises to change the very nature of police-citizen interaction.
Reported today by the L.A. Times, the ACLU of California has released the app this morning. Called Mobile Justice CA, the ACLU app allows a citizen to send recordings directly to the ACLU, ensuring that video of potential police misconduct is preserved, even if their cellphone is tampered with or destroyed. This follows on the heels Monday of the Missouri Chapter launching its version of the ACLU App.
Cell phone video has become the center of a national debate following the shooting of Walter Scott in South Carolina by a police officer now charged with murder. A citizen bystander recorded the shooting on his cell phone camera and came forward with it after the officer lied about the encounter. Most commentators believe that without the video, the officer’s fabricated account would have been believed and he would have gotten away with murder.
Peter Bibring, Senior Staff Attorney for the ACLU Southern California Chapter, said work began on the app before the recent controversy.
“As we’ve seen in headlines over the previous few months, recordings by members of the public is a crucial check on police abuse,” Bibring said. “We’ve seen a number of examples of high-profile incidents of abuse and unlawful shootings or killings that never would have come to light if someone wouldn’t have pulled out their phone and taken video.”
The free app can be downloaded to any Android or iPhone, and automatically uploads the video to the ACLU servers. It also flags the phone’s location so that others with the app can locate the scene and capture video as well. Videos that are uploaded are then reviewed by ACLU staff to look for instances of excessive force.