As the example of Ferguson, MO has shown us, sometimes those sworn to protect and serve don’t always appear to have that oath at the forefront of their minds when executing their duties. If my Facebook feed and #ifTheyGunnedMeDown are any indication, the question of “who polices the police?” is a serious (and not unwarranted) concern for a lot of people. When you’re in a situation where you don’t feel as if dialing 911 is a viable option, here are a few apps that might help:
Five-O: Inspired by the recent events around the killing of Michael Brown, three teenage siblings have created an app designed to document the bad and the good that takes place behind the thin blue line. The Five-O app lets users submit instances of police brutality or misconduct and assign ratings to individual officers. Being called a “Yelp for police”, Five-O also establishes community boards by county to facilitate communication and planned responses to problems with local police. But Georgia teens Caleb, Ima, and Asha Christian also want to highlight positive interactions with police in hopes that it will encourage continued positive behavior among officers and foster trust in communities. The goal is to collect as much data as possible so that the entire picture of police interaction with a particular community can be documented and challenges can be addressed. The app also includes tips to help you understand your rights when interacting with police and a station locator as well. Five-O is scheduled to hit the App Store and Google Play stores this week.
Police Tape: Developed by the ACLU of New Jersey, the Police Tape app was designed to allow “citizens to hold police accountable in the palm of their hands”. The app securely and discreetly records and stores interactions with police. You can also get information on how to conduct yourself during police interactions on the street, in your home, in your car, or if you’re being arrested. It is critical that you know your rights as it pertains to recording police in your state. Police Tape is free and available for iOS and Android.
I’m Getting Arrested: If all else fails and you find yourself on your way to the back of a squad car, the I’m Getting Arrested app will notify pre-selected contacts. Inspired by an incident that happened during Occupy Wall Street, the idea is to have your family, friends, and legal team at the tip of your finger – just in case. I’m Getting Arrested is free but only available for Android right now, but Red Panic Button should serve a similar purpose for iPhone users.
Peacekeeper: Ultimately, all any of us wants is to have safe communities, free from the threat of harassment, discrimination, and abuse – regardless of where it comes from. The Peacekeeper app is based on the idea that private individuals are usually the first responders at the scene of an emergency. Those first responders can then alert other people in their network to mobilize and provide assistance. This app would be useful in any emergency situation, but could have been especially handy to let Ferguson protestors know where they might find a safe place to shelter themselves, or rally supporters to be on standby with milk to help with tear gas. Peacekeeper is free for iOS and Android.
When two of the top Twitter trending topics of the day are #HandsUp and #DontShoot, it becomes clear that a serious disconnect has taken place in this country between citizens and law enforcement, and technology can be a useful and necessary tool when exercising your constitutional right to peaceful protest becomes compromised. #Ferguson