The American Civil Liberties Union launches app to report questionable police behavior

The American Civil Liberties Union launches app to report questionable police behavior

The American Civil Liberties Union of California on Thursday released the mobile app “Mobile Justice CA” , an app designed to allow you to upload images and videos of questionable police behavior and send them directly to the ACLU thereby protecting the footage even if the phone were to be destroyed.
The app can send an alert to anyone nearby who has the app on their device as well. This gives the ability to have multiple cameras filming at the same time. As we have witnessed with recent events from California to Baltimore, the more footage that is accessible the clearer any evidence of wrongdoing will be.
The ACLU said anyone intending on using the app should let police know they are reaching for their cellphone because law enforcement may mistake a phone for a weapon.
Once a user sends uploaded footage the ACLU officials are able to screen the footage for anything that may violate the rights of a person or activity that is questionable by law enforcement. The app user would still own the video but under the ACLU terms and conditions users would allow the organization use of their video for non profit work or to make public the recording.
After spending some time playing with the app, there are a lot of good features like the ability to instantly document your thoughts about any event that has just transpired, sometimes in moments of fear and chaos much of the story leading up to the event and during them can be lost and you may not be able to communicate accurately what happened. Another great element is the witness feature where you can send out a signal for help.
On the flip side of the coin I did feel there are a few downfalls to the app like the possibility of this app escalating a situation as the user reached for the cellphone. Over the course of this last year I have witnessed videos in which people have said I am reaching for a phone or a piece of paper in their vehicle and they were shot by law enforcement in the process. Another downfall I felt was having a secondary party control the outcome of the footage you shoot, although you own the footage who would actually get the final say as to what inevitably happens to that video particularly if you feel you have been violated and they didn’t. Police brutality videos should be public and not under the control any organization.
All in all I do believe this app and others like it will play a vital role in reminding law enforcement many eyes are on them and that our rights matter. Mobile Justice CA is extremely easy to use and is available on the App Store or you can get it on Google Play.

Camilla Wood

UK based Legal Aid Lawyer

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