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Justice: There’s an app for that

Mobile Justice from Treva Thrush on Vimeo.

In an effort to boost government accountability, the American Civil Liberties Union has launched a new app that lets you record and report your encounters with police — and it’s receiving mixed opinions from police and citizens.

The free app is called Mobile Justice. With the app, users can record and upload their police encounters, and the video is automatically sent to the ACLU database. Along with the video, you can send a written complaint so the organization can investigate alleged police misconduct.

ACLU Maryland was not available for comment, but Baltimore resident Frank Henderson said he thinks social media is a great way to bring to light issues that he believes have been present in his community for years.

“Policing right now has just been getting too out of hand,” Henderson said. “Everything is social media — iPhones, cameras — when you think about beforehand, how many people have gotten unjust.”

Amidst growing police distrust among the public after events like Freddie Gray — when Gray was killed in the hands of police — or Ferguson, Missouri — when a white officer shot a black man — many police departments are equipping their officers with body cameras in hopes to improve transparency.

Prince George’s County Police spokesperson Lt. Kirk McLean said he thinks the app will help with investigations because it will create more evidence and show more angles than a body camera alone could.

“The public has every right to record the police if it makes them feel more comfortable,” McLean said. “In fact, I encourage it.”

But security guard and aspiring police officer Ben Lind said he disagrees — Lind said there should be something to hold officers accountable, but it shouldn’t be in the hands of the public.

“When you try and get the public involved with everybody else’s business, then it makes the cops hard to do their job,” the 18-year-old said. “When everybody’s in their face, then they can’t do their job of protecting everybody.”

Mobile Justice is available in 17 states, as well as Washington, D.C., for iPhones and Androids.

How chocolate can create jobs

Cameron’s Coffee and Chocolates from Treva Thrush on Vimeo.

Cameron’s Coffee and Chocolates is not your average coffee shop; it’s mission is to feed a cause that’s creating jobs for people with disabilities.

Cameron’s — created in 2013 — is the first business in the nonprofit Every1 Can Work, which helps provide jobs for young adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities. And with more than 84 percent of adults with disabilities unemployed, the business works as hard as it can to promise job security for its employees.

“Even though people have intellectual disabilities, they’re capable of so much,” Ellen Graham, co-owner of Cameron’s said. “What you want people to be able to do is achieve the highest level of independence that’s capable for that person.”

Graham, along with her husband Jim, started the business in honor of their 25-year-old daughter Cameron, who has autism. Graham said the bar was always set high for Cameron in grade school, so she wanted Cameron to have a work environment that did the same.

“That’s the goal here: Is to have our workers learn not only kitchen skills, but they learn life skills as well,” she said.

Cameron’s currently has eight employees with disabilities who work alongside work coaches. Together, they create an array of chocolates and pastries, as well as coffee drinks and smoothies.

But Graham said the business model is hard to run because she is currently running a for-profit business through a nonprofit organization.

“It’s a complicated model, and I’m the first one to admit that,” she said. “But as we go and grow, we’ll try to refine it.”

But despite the challenges, Graham described her customers as “wonderful” and “very supportive.”

“They want to do whatever they can to help us,” she said. “We’re thankful for that.”

Corn maze gone viral

Taylor Swift Corn Maze from Treva Thrush on Vimeo.

If you’ve been dying to come face-to-face with Taylor Swift, now is your chance. Swift is at Summers Farm in Frederick, Maryland, every day this fall — in the form of corn, at least.

Although they don’t call themselves “Swifties,” Summers Farm owners Jeff and Teresa Greenwood decided to shape their corn maze as Swift’s face because they said they like the message she sends people.

“A lot of people think she is this role model for kids but really she is a role model for everybody by the way she carries herself, how she treats people, and how she is big on being your own person,” Jeff told Rolling Stone.

And the maze is Swift-approved. Swift posted a photo of her corn-themed tribute with the caption: “Lawn goals.” The photo went viral with more than a million likes.

“This maze has gone worldwide everywhere,” Teresa said. “We’ve been getting calls, we’re in Rolling Stone magazine. We’ve been very popular and we do think it’s going to boost attendance.”

But if you make your way to Frederick, make sure you’ve studied some Swift trivia. The maze contains multiple choice questions about the pop star throughout. Each answer choice will either send you to the finish or get you lost — depending if you answer correctly.

“I’m a huge Taylor Swift fan,” farm-goer Colleen Weber said. “But actually, I only knew about half. The rest I Googled, to be honest. I thought they were pretty tough.”

The Swift maze is open daily until Nov. 1.