Fighting Stop-and-Frisk With a Smartphone

| Fri Jun. 8, 2012 6:36 PM EDT

Want to end stop-and-frisk tactics by police? There's an app for that.

There's been a growing public outcry over the NYPD's controversial policy that targets mostly innocent, mostly black and Latino New Yorkers for pat downs and interrogation. Last month, a lawsuit alleging the practice amounts to racial profiling gained class action status, and this week, New York officials asked the Justice Department to consider investigating the program.

But now, pushback against stop-and-frisk is in the hands of everyday citizens. On Wednesday, the NYCLU, in collaboration with Brooklyn developer Jason Van Anden, rolled out a free Android app (iPhone version out later this summer) called "Stop and Frisk Watch," which will allow New Yorkers to monitor and report police misconduct. The app alerts users when folks in their area are being stopped by the cops and lets them film the incident and send it to the NYCLU.

 
Van Anden caught the eye of the NYCLU when he devised an Occupy-inspired app called "I'm Getting Arrested" that allows people to broadcast to their friends that they're being detained. When the NYCLU approached him about creating the stop-and-frisk app, "I was totally on board because I had seen incidents in my neighborhood," Van Anden says. Local community and labor groups also pitched in with brainstorming and test-runs.

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