Today the NYCLU has released the iPhone version of their Stop & Frisk Watch app that allows users to record police interactions and submit them to the organization in real time. The NYCLU notes that a new testing feature for the program should cut down on the large volume of videos that aren't actually documenting police interactions, but instead show users toying with the app. But in one memorable instance, NYPD officers themselves used the video app to share their feelings towards the NYCLU:
Since its debut for Android users last June, the NYCLU says they've received over 1,000 written reports documenting police officers being verbally abusive or drawing weapons during stops, and one instance in Washington Heights in which an officer refused to give his name and badge number, then used his car's floodlights to prevent a bystander from recording the police stop. Of the more than 5,000 videos submitted, around 200 document police incidents.
"While we've yet to see a 'Rodney King' moment, Stop and Frisk Watch submissions have confirmed a number of concerns the NYCLU has about stop and frisk abuse and has provided New Yorkers with a powerful tool to document police abuse," NYCLU executive director Donna Lieberman says in a release.
Though it's created "a lot of needless video review for our attorneys…it's a good problem to have," NYCLU spokeswoman Jennifer Carnig says of the glut of unusable footage. "It's wonderful that thousands of people were so excited about the app that they couldn't wait to try it out. We're hopeful this test function will eliminate many of those submissions and leave us with the police accountability videos instead."
Earlier this week the NYPD released data showing that they stopped and frisked a record-high 686,000 stops in 2011—86% of those stopped were black or Latino. In 2012 stops declined, as did the murder rate and shooting rate, which does not jibe with the City's narrative that the stops are necessary to take guns of the street and prevent violence.
In addition to submitting video and written reports of police interactions, the app also informs users of their rights during police interactions. Users wishing to remain anonymous after submitting footage or reports will have their wishes respected, and there is no way for the NYCLU to trace submissions back to individual phones.