It is well documented that stop and frisk (the police practice of stopping individuals on the street in the hopes of finding that they are doing something illegal) is out of control. it is also a fact that Black and Latino men are disproportionately targeted and that 90% of those stopped have committed no crime.
Many individuals and civil liberties organizations have tried to stop this unfair practice to no avail, but now there is a way for every concerned citizen to fight back. Earlier this month the NYCLU released a free smartphone app that allows individuals to document illegal stop and frisk practices and report them in real time.
The "Stop and Frisk Watch" app, available on Android now and the iPhone later this summer, is designed for bystanders to record police as they stop individuals and report their activity directly to the NYCLU. The app is available in English and Spanish.
“Stop and Frisk Watch is about empowering individuals and community groups to confront abusive, discriminatory policing,” NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said in a statement. “The NYPD’s own data shows that the overwhelming majority of people subjected to stop-and-frisk are black or Latino, and innocent of any wrongdoing. At a time when the [Mayor Mike] Bloomberg administration vigorously defends the status quo, our app will allow people to go beyond the data to document how each unjustified stop further corrodes trust between communities and law enforcement.”
The recording and report will be sent to the civil liberties group, which will collect the information.
One of the app’s three main functions is called “listen,” in which users can learn when and where people around them are being stopped. This would be useful for community groups monitoring police activity, the NYCLU said in a statement.
New York City police stopped and questioned people 685,724 times in 2011, a more than 600 percent increase in street stops since 2002. Of that, 87 percent were black or Latino, and nine out of every 10 of the people who were stopped were not arrested or ticketed.
The app was thoroughly criticized by the New York Police Department, which said that "the tool might prove useful for criminals".
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