‘Stop-And-Frisk Watch’ Smartphone App Allows New Yorkers To Push Back Against Unlawful Police Encounters

If you’re concerned about possible racial profiling and police misconduct resulting from New York City’s controversial “stop-and-frisk” policy, there’s an app for that.

In response to potential civil rights issues stemming from stop-and-frisk tactics — which are often criticized for disproportionately targeting young black men — the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) has created a smartphone app to help bystanders record police misconduct. Since the app’s release last week, more than 75,000 people have downloaded it.

NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman explains that the app is necessary because, while New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has continued to defend the stop-and-frisk policy, city residents need to be empowered to make improvements in their own communities:

LIEBERMAN: Stop and Frisk Watch is about empowering individuals and community groups to confront abusive, discriminatory policing. 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 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 Stop-and-Frisk Watch app allows bystanders to record video of police encounters and send those videos straight to the NYCLU’s servers. The app also shows users if there are other people using the app nearby, helping facilitate community groups working together to oppose police brutality, and contains a section called “Know Your Rights” that details the legal requirements for police confrontations.

NYCLU is also working with other labor, civil rights, and community organizations to organize a silent march against New York’s stop-and-frisk policy to coincide with Father’s Day this weekend.