Last June we informed our readers that the New York Civil Liberties Union launched a phone app allowing New Yorkers to document their encounters with the “boys in blue.” Well the app has proved successful, being downloaded by over 20,000 people since that time despite being available only on limited phones. Now, the NYCLU is expanding the reach of Stop and Frisk Watch by making it available for iPhones.
According to the blog of the ACLU, the app was designed to give New Yorkers a way to document their own run-ins with the NYPD’s policy of stopping and frisking a disproportionate number of minorities within the city. And New Yorkers have responded.
Hundreds of videos and thousands of written reports have come into the NYCLU office. In these are accounts of officers being verbally abusive and some even drawing their weapons during street stops. The information is adding necessary fuel to the fire that will hopefully one day be the undoing of this racially biased and unethical practice.
For now, you can download the app here.
Stop and Frisk Watch allows you to record your interactions with police. It is a video recording with audio. Once you stop filming, you will be prompted to fill out a survey in regards to your stop. Both your recording and your survey is then instantly forwarded to the NYCLU.
Also, the app alerts you when you are in the proximity of a stop and frisk in progress. If someone else in your neighborhood is stopped, you’ll know about it, helping you to come to the aid of someone with your recording device in hand.
Even if you don’t film or audio record an interaction, you can report it using the Stop and Frisk Watch.
Hundreds of thousands of people are stopped and frisked by members of the NYPD each year. The majority (nearly 90%) are either black or Latino. Though officials staunchly stand by the highly questionable practice, the ACLU is working to put a stop to it.
It’s important to note that recording police is not against the law, despite what many of them may have you think. However, cops don’t like it. So, be aware that your recording could draw even more negative attention towards yourself.
Whether you record your interaction with police or not, you have rights. And if a cop tramples those rights, any charges you face as a result of that interaction could be thrown out of court. If you are arrested for drug possession, or any criminal charge based on an illegitimate search, your Constitutional rights should be protected.