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ACLU Starts Mobile Phone App to Videotape Police

Updated on November 21, 2015

ACLU Reserves a Right to Intervene

The American Civil Liberties Union is operating a new free smartphone app in the Washington area and elsewhere that allows users to record police activity then transfer the video to the ACLU for review.

The ACLU hopes the Mobile Justice app will make police more accountable for their actions and deter excessive force, according to a report by The Legal Forum (www.legal-forum.net).

The app can be used on iPhones and Android operating systems. It is available in English and Spanish versions through the Apple App Store and Google Play.

It allows users to automatically transfer video to the ACLU, where it will be stored in case the phone is lost, destroyed or confiscated. A form on the app allows users to fill in the names of persons involved in an incident, the location and time.

ACLU attorneys, who refer to the app as the people’s body camera, could intervene with legal action if its attorneys find misconduct.

Other features of the app include a notification service when other users have been stopped by police nearby and a Know Your Rights section for advice on interacting with police.

ACLU officials said they were motivated partly by public information laws that restrict access to police body camera video. The risk is that police could conceal their own offensive behavior by invoking the laws, according to the ACLU.

The ACLU reserves a right to use the video any way it wants.

Police department spokesmen in Maryland, Virginia and the District say they do not oppose Mobile Justice.

The app has been downloaded about 300,000 times in New York, California, Colorado and other places the ACLU has tested it previously. However, the organization has not yet pursued legal action against police despite receiving thousands of videos.

The ACLU has started a cellphone app to videotape police actions.
The ACLU has started a cellphone app to videotape police actions.

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