Boo! Stopped by the Police? There's an App for That!

From Ryan Brown's video.
From Ryan Brown's video.

Worried about the possibility of police brutality? There's an app for that.

Yesterday the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado launched Mobile Justice Colorado, a new police accountability tool that not only details your rights to witness and record police interactions, but also allows you to submit cell-phone videos of civil rights abuses directly to the ACLU of Colorado.

“Several recent high-profile cases in Colorado and throughout the country have demonstrated the critical role that cell-phone video recordings can play in holding law enforcement accountable for their actions,” said ACLU of Colorado Executive Director Nathan Woodliff-Stanley in announcing the launch. “Recording police is a fundamental right, and we encourage everyone to use it.”

The ACLU of Colorado recently won dismissal of criminal obstruction charges against Ryan Brown, an African-American man who recorded a traffic stop by Colorado Springs police during which officers pulled him from the vehicle at gunpoint, threw him to the ground, searched him, and cuffed him without identifying the reason for the stop — which turned out to be a cracked windshield. While dragging him to the ground, officers took Brown’s phone, turned off the video, and threw it in the snow. Brown’s recording of the stop drew national attention and accumulated over 155,000 views on Youtube.

Ryan Brown's brother was cuffed.
Ryan Brown's brother was cuffed.

“Internal affairs documents revealed that the officer who shoved Ryan Brown’s face in the snow didn’t recall his own actions until he saw them later on the cell phone recording,” said ACLU of Colorado Legal Director Mark Silverstein. “Were it not for Ryan’s recording, which could have easily been destroyed, the officer’s recollection of the events might have gone unchallenged, and the truth might never have been discovered.” 

Mobile Justice CO is available in English and Spanish for use on Android and iOS phones and can be downloaded for free through Apple’s App Store or Google Play. According to the ACLU, its functions include:

Record– empowers users to record their interactions with law enforcement in audio and video files that are automatically sent to the ACLU of Colorado, so that they cannot be deleted or destroyed.

Witness– alerts nearby Mobile Justice Colorado users when another user is stopped by police, so that they can move toward the location and document the interaction.

Report– gives users the option to provide a more-detailed account of their interactions with police in an incident report, which will be transmitted directly to the ACLU of Colorado.

Rights– provides an overview of individual rights and how to protect them when recording or interacting with law enforcement officers.

In the 2015 Colorado legislative session, the ACLU of Colorado supported HB 1290, the first measure in the country to affirmatively declare a right to record police officers. The bill passed both chambers of the Colorado legislature and was signed into law by Governor John Hickenlooper.

Learn more about Mobile Justice Colorado and download the app from the ACLU of Colorado’s website.


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