The ACLU has launched a mobile app designed to help people record police incidents and prevent the video from being deleted or destroyed.
The app release comes as protesters flood Baltimore in a stand against the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray. He suffered a fatal spine injury while in police custody.
Footage taken on the Mobile Justice app goes directly to ACLU lawyers for review, who keep it in case law enforcement wants to seize the original copy.
“Mobile Justice is more than recording on your cellphone,” said Margaret Dooley-Sammuli with the ACLU San Diego. “It’s like carrying an ACLU attorney in your pocket."
Users can also write and send reports about a police encounter, as well as receive alerts when another user is recording an incident nearby.
Bystanders’ cellphone videos have helped launch the deaths of Eric Garner and Freddie Gray into the national spotlight, prompting concerns over excessive use of force.
San Diego Police Department Lt. Scott Wahl released the following statement about the app’s release:
“The concept is great. The filming of police officers out in public is not against the law. We only ask the public to not interfere or obstruct the police in doing their job.”
The ACLU recommends that users announce they are pulling out their phones to record something safely. A section of the app titled “Know your rights” explains more about where and when to record.
The San Diego Police Department is the largest agency in the country equipped body cameras. Dooley-Sammuli said it’s the public turn to control the camera lense.
“It simply means the community is watching. I want to make sure we have the kind of policing we want,” she said.