New Phone App Allows Citizens to Document “Stop and Frisk”

Have you ever wanted to record police and immediately send your video to a powerful civil liberties group? Well, now there’s an app for that. According to the Wall Street Journal, the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) has developed a smart phone application that will help keep tabs on New York police officers and their employment of the city’s stop and frisk tactics.

Called the “Stop and Frisk Watch” app, the application allows users to record officers when the stop and question people. Then their video can be sent immediately to the NYCLU who will review it for possible misconduct.

NYC’s stop and frisk policy has drawn heavy criticism (to put it mildly) over the past several years. Not only because cops seem to be fishing for arrests when they employ it but also because they use it at an alarmingly disproportionate rate against black and Hispanic citizens.

Users of the app press a button to begin recording and shake their phone to stop. Then they fill out a questionnaire about the scene they witnessed and describe what exactly happened. The film and information is sent to the NYCLU who will then determine if any action is warranted. Those who download the app also get notification if someone else in their area is currently reporting a stop and frisk incident.

While the app has some obvious potential benefits—giving a voice to people who may not otherwise know where to turn with allegations of police misconduct related to stop and frisk—if it becomes widely used, the NYCLU could find themselves overwhelmed.

As we wrote last month, over 200,000 stop and frisk incidents were already logged in the first three months of 2012, that’s up from just over 180,000 during the same period last year. Not that every incident will be sent into NYCLU, but even if a fraction are, the organization could be stretched thin.

There’s nothing NYPD officers like more than to stop and frisk people, it seems hoping to find a law violation for which they can make an arrest. Marijuana possession is one example of a crime we typically see resulting from a stop and frisk, though there are others.

Often, when the cops stop you and ask to get a search, their justification for such a search is flimsy at best. Fortunately, you have rights and if you face charges as a result of such a stop, a local defense attorney may be able to help.

Whether you are accused of cocaine possession or disorderly conduct, you deserve to have someone in your corner when you go before the judge. Contact our offices today to discuss the details of your case and how we might be able to minimize its impact on your life.

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