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.