New ACLU app lets users record, report police interactions

New ACLU app lets users record, report police interactions (Image 1)

A new app meant to monitor interactions with police has some in law enforcement feeling uneasy.

The ACLU of North Carolina’s app is called “Mobile Justice NC.”

Its creators say it’s meant to be a positive tool, but one local retired officer says it could cause a lot of harm.

With body cameras being implemented in law enforcement agencies across the country, some are asking why this potentially less reliable form of video is being pushed by the ACLU.

“At the ACLU, we receive hundreds of calls from North Carolinians describing bad encounters with the police. ‘Mobile Justice NC’ will serve as a free tool that people can use to document those encounters and submit them to us easily, safely and accurately,” said Carolyna Manrique, North Carolina ACLU staff attorney.

Accuracy is a big worry for retired NYPD officer Robert Young.

He says there’s a key difference between video from police body cameras and video shot on a cell phone – it can be manipulated.

“I’m afraid that that’s going to cause a problem. Because if you alter a video, you cause a riot. And then you cause harm to people because you aren’t showing the true content of what’s going on,” said Young.

Young also says apps like “Mobile Justice NC” cultivate an atmosphere that paints officers as “things,” not people.

“Although you’re trying to protect other people’s rights you have to understand the officer has to have rights and freedoms himself,” said Young.

However the ACLU points out that not all officers are wearing body cameras yet, and cell phone video sometimes tells a different story.

“Video footage can serve a crucial role in shining a light on police encounters and police interactions with the communities,” said Manrique.

Young says the increase in cell phone videos is also causing officers to second-guess themselves in situations when they have only seconds to make a decision.

He says it’s a dangerous effect that could lead to someone getting hurt.

The ACLU says the apps are modeled after the New York Civil Liberties Union’s Stop and Frisk app.

The app is available in English and Spanish and is now on Apple and Android devices.

Copyright 2015 WNCN. All rights reserved. WNCN’s Carleigh Griffeth contributed to this story.

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