If you've been watching the news lately, you're surely aware that the use of force by police officers is a hot topic right now. But no matter where you stand on the issues involved here, surely we can all agree that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
One of the most effective preventative measures that can be taken is to document events thoroughly. The ACLU is looking to help with this with a set of apps that are designed to record police activity. As these are available for both Android and iOS, they should serve as a nice alternative to the iPhone-specific Cop Watch app.
These apps are only available for residents of five U.S. states, but they offer users a direct line with the ACLU. If you witness a police incident where officers have used force of any kind, the videos you record with this app can be immediately uploaded to the ACLU's servers. With your participation, constant documentation may eventually help reduce the use of excessive force, and the apps make it so no matter what happens to your device, your videos will be securely uploaded.
The ACLU has limited resources and server space, so they cannot offer this service for all 50 states at this time. Additionally, state laws that pertain to recording police activity may vary, so be aware of the laws in your area before you videotape an incident.
As of right now, the ACLU's Mobile Justice app is available for residents of California, Missouri, Oregon, Nebraska, and Mississippi. If your state is covered, head to the Google Play Store or iOS App Store to search for and install the app. Alternatively, you can use the links below.
- Mobile Justice - Oregon (Android)
- Mobile Justice - Oregon (iOS) - [not yet available]
While I'll be showing off one of the Android versions below, the process should be similar for the iPhone ones, as well.
From here, the buttons across the bottom of the screen provide quick links for useful information, and the "Witness" and "Report" buttons let you file and view written reports.
But the main use-case for this app is to record police activity. If you should ever encounter an officer using force in an arrest, tap the "Record" button in the middle of the screen. The app will immediately switch to camera mode and start filming the incident at this point. When the situation is resolved, tap the "Stop" button to wrap up your recording.
From here, you'll be prompted to provide information about this incident. Tap "Continue," then enter the location where the event occurred.
After tapping "Next" at the bottom of the screen, you'll be asked to describe the persons involved. Try to be as accurate as possible with this section, as you are now an eyewitness.
Continuing on, the app will ask you to provide any information you may know about the police officer involved. When you're finished here, tap "Submit Incident Report," and the ACLU will receive your video and the information you provided.
Navigate to the app's Settings from the main page to enter your contact information, as well as review some potentially useful options.
Here, you can choose to enable the "Lock Screen on Capture" option (available on Android devices only), which will immediately secure your device after you are done recording, which can be useful if an officer wrongfully attempts to confiscate your device to destroy evidence. You can also enable the "Broadcast My Location" option to alert users with the app near you on an incident in progress.
What are your thoughts on this app and the topics it involves? Let us know in the comment section below, or drop us a line on Android Hacks' Facebook or Twitter, or Gadget Hacks' Facebook, Google+, or Twitter.