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Crime United Kingdom Technology

App To Hold Police Instantly Accountable In Stop and Search (thestack.com) 167

An anonymous reader writes: A collective of London-based youth clubs and organizations has released an app called Y-Stop to help encourage those involved in unfair police encounters to instantly record and report their experiences. The idea is to 'encourage police accountability' by making it easier for anyone to have a say about what they think may be unjustified or illegal police action. The app allows its user to immediately send audio and video footage of harassment for secure holding with the charities themselves, or with the police directly. It also enables easier communication with lawyers for assistance and advice.
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App To Hold Police Instantly Accountable In Stop and Search

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  • I was thinking about how to set up quick recording to online storage for this exact purpose, as my girlfriend was having trouble with a crooked sheriff, but I never thought about doing it via app. Kinda wish I had thought of it myself, but so long as it exists, I'm happy.
  • by Roodvlees ( 2742853 ) on Tuesday November 03, 2015 @07:42AM (#50854433)
    I guess when government fails so miserably and consistently at doing it's job, some companies are willing to help out.
    • Not to be too cynical, but I don't suspect the company behind this app is so much a "moral company" as it is a front for a law firm(s). Not sure if it works the same in the UK, but in the U.S. at least, that kind of data would be very valuable to lawyers wanting to sue the city/state for damages; and it would also be very valuable as a way to connect with potential clients.

      • Not to be too cynical, but I don't suspect the company behind this app is so much a "moral company" as it is a front for a law firm(s). Not sure if it works the same in the UK, but in the U.S. at least, that kind of data would be very valuable to lawyers wanting to sue the city/state for damages; and it would also be very valuable as a way to connect with potential clients.

        That's great news. It means this practice is more likely to spread and receive some serious financial and legal backing. You can't reasonably expect corporations to be moral entities, at least not under the system we have now.

        If there's money (and good PR) to be made protecting citizens from the abuses of police, and providing police a strong incentive to obey the law they've sworn to uphold, then said law firms will have earned it by providing a useful service. That's exactly the way the system is su

      • Not to be too cynical, but I don't suspect the company behind this app is so much a "moral company" as it is a front for a law firm(s).

        So... are you saying it's a bad thing that lawyers are targeting corrupt cops? Isn't that about as moral as a company can get? It's the Chris Hansen of companies.

        Not sure if it works the same in the UK, but in the U.S. at least, that kind of data would be very valuable to lawyers wanting to sue the city/state for damages; and it would also be very valuable as a way to conne

        • Not to be too cynical, but I don't suspect the company behind this app is so much a "moral company" as it is a front for a law firm(s).

          So... are you saying it's a bad thing that lawyers are targeting corrupt cops? Isn't that about as moral as a company can get? It's the Chris Hansen of companies.

          Not sure if it works the same in the UK, but in the U.S. at least, that kind of data would be very valuable to lawyers wanting to sue the city/state for damages; and it would also be very valuable as a way to connect with potential clients.

          "Have your encounter with the police overseen by a lawyer looking to sue them" seems like a pretty good deal for the user, even better than just having it recorded in fact.

          I just can't support this popular tendency to read meaning into the words of another that is not there.

          He never once said it was a bad thing. He simply identified himself as a cynic, and proceeded to demonstrate this cynicism by pointing out that "moral" may not be the best way to describe the behavior observed. That's all that happened. Whether he believes said behavior is a good thing or a bad thing was left unsaid. It is abundantly possible for it to be a good thing and still be motivated by somet

  • Walking While Black (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 03, 2015 @07:45AM (#50854439)

    Read the woman's blog about how she was stopped for "Walking While Black" [clashdaily.com], then watch the police dash cam.

    • Why the hell do they want to know who she is? They *seem* reasonable "pay attention to the road; use basic road-safety principles that a child would use" but then there's the "let me confirm who you are" aspect. PAPERS PLEASE!!!!

      • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 )

        If you actually listened to the audio all the way through, they give the reason for asking. We don't know what would have happened if she had refused (as is her right), but to suggest things would have turned ugly is pure speculation.

        • I listened to most of the audio. What did I miss?

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward
            The idiot is walking on the road with the flow of traffic, when it's known that if you have to walk on the road then walk against the flow of traffic so you can see if you're going to get run over. But there's also that big concrete thing on the side of the road called a sidewalk. She was probably trying to incite trouble with the cops to be famous.
      • by tomhath ( 637240 ) on Tuesday November 03, 2015 @08:15AM (#50854601)

        Obstructing traffic is a misdemeanor. They could have given her a ticket but didn't.

        Either way, it's standard procedure to check someone's id after they have committed a violation like that, not their decision.

        • Roads are designed for all users, not just cars. A pedestrian is "traffic!"

      • Whenever the police stop someone in the line of duty, they have to make a report. And that report needs the names of anyone they talked to. They weren't looking for her name in order to verify her story, they were looking for her name so that if anyone asked them about the incident, they could say "We talked with a Mrs Bland and informed her that she was obstructing traffic and if she does have to walk in the street, to walk facing traffic."

        • Listen to this at 2:55 [youtube.com]; they're checking. What are they checking? I don't see how they can confirm that the person in front of them matches any records available to the person on the other end of the radio. Perhaps they're checking if there's a valid reason for them to take further action against a person with that name and date of birth?

          Alternative thoughts which don't appear to be rooted in a mistrust of the police?

          • by tomhath ( 637240 )

            She wasn't harassed or profiled. The cops politely advised her to walk on the left side of the street and recorded the fact that she was given a verbal warning for obstructing traffic. If you break the law they will ask for your name even if they don't issue a citation.

            A few years ago a neighbor of mine was killed by a drunk driver while walking on the right side of the road; it's dangerous, especially while wearing ear buds. It happens.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I like the one where the white driver stopped so a black pedestrian could cross the street, and as soon as she saw the guy that graciously stopped for her was white, she slowed down to a turtles pace to piss him off.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        I like the one where the white driver stopped so a black pedestrian could cross the street, and as soon as she saw the guy that graciously stopped for her was white, she slowed down to a turtles pace to piss him off.

        Black people frequently do this sort of thing especially in cities. It happens, it's real, and it doesn't take a lot of observation to notice it. What message did that pedestrian send to the driver? "I see that you're obviously not racist, in fact you're going out of your way to be nice to me. Well, don't bother trying to be nice to us, because you're different, so fuck you." Is that supposed to help anything at all?

        It's just considered taboo to talk about it, because it doesn't fit in with the "bla

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 03, 2015 @08:21AM (#50854641)

      You bring up a very interesting point.

      What will happen when the footage and audio captured repeatedly shows that the police were in the right, that they acted reasonably, and that it was in fact the other party/parties who were in the wrong?

      Will the non-police parties actually admit that they were wrong? Or will they continue to live in a constant state of denial, even when all of the evidence shows that they were the ones in the wrong?

      The Michael Brown incident [wikipedia.org] is a perfect example of this. We have some clear video footage of him mercilessly robbing a store and abusing the cashier just minutes before his encounter with police. Just after this criminal incident, he was disrupting traffic by walking down the middle of the street. Then when confronted by the police, all of the evidence from the grand jury investigation showed that he had repeatedly attacked the police officer physically, including trying to take the officer's gun.

      The officer did the only reasonable thing given the circumstances, and defended himself against this violent attacker using force, which ended up resulting in Brown's death. Yet despite all of the evidence available showing the police officer being completely in the right, and the violent thug completely in the wrong, it was still the officer who was mislabeled as having done wrong in this case. Thankfully, the justice system worked properly and brought the truth to light: the officer acted completely in self-defense, and did nothing wrong.

      Yet despite all of the clear and indisputable evidence showing how the events unfolded and who was responsible (Brown), Brown's supporters have continued to deny the truth and reality of the situation.

      I suspect we would see the same happen when it comes to footage and other evidence in general. The perpetrators in these cases are so convinced that they're "right", even when they're completely wrong, that they just can't accept it when the evidence shows that the police were actually in the right.

      • What will happen when the footage and audio captured repeatedly shows that the police were in the right, that they acted reasonably, and that it was in fact the other party/parties who were in the wrong?

        Exactly the same thing as if you were to review the footage of red light cameras filming cars stopping at an intersection correctly. Nothing. This is because it's how things are supposed to work. Ideally people should always stop in time for a red light and police should always act reasonably towards the people they are there to protect. Unfortunately we do not live in an ideal world (shocker, I know). People occasionally run red lights and cops sometimes abuse people.
        For your own well being BTW, please di

        • While I will admit that in 98% of the cases the right light cameras are probably working just fine, my issue is that when there is a problem with the camera there is little to no recourse, due to both the distance of time and the lack of a human to argue with if there was some extenuating factor. (I have seen lights with VERY short yellows; somewhere around 1 second, but less than 2 seconds.) There have been numerous news articles about shenanigans either at the private company running the cameras, or at t

      • Yeah. I don't understand why anyone in "Black Lives Matter" would mention Michael Brown. While it appears that the Ferguson police department was incredibly corrupt, that particular shooting seems justified.

        There's plenty of examples of black people being unjustly killed by police (and if this is false, the movement has no purpose). Use some of those.

      • That's why a number of wearers probably won't record the part where they were acting like an ass or doing something illegal and giving the cop lip, resisting arrest, etc.. they'll only starting recording when the the cop reacts making it appear unprovoked. Context is important.
        Still, so long as the cameras record *everything* that happens and provides fair context including what led up to an encounter, I think they're a good idea, on both sides, for citizens and cops. Cameras don't lie or have bias.
  • This will end well. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Culture20 ( 968837 )
    Because the first thing you want to do when a cop starts illegally frisking you is quickly shove a hand in one of your pockets to get your phone...
    • I keep my phone in my pocket, but I'm middle aged and not likely to get stopped by the police. The folks I see about younger than I am don't seem to put their phone away in the first place, so this will probably be very useful for them.
    • "Hey, Siri, tango tango tango."
  • There are tons of laws and regulations about recording. Wire tapping laws are quite complex and arcane. You could argue this is "wireless taping" so wire-tap laws don't apply. But many police departments claim recording the police violates the law.
    • by Greyfox ( 87712 )
      So far, every police department that I've heard of doing that has lost in court. Then they get dinged for a civil rights violation on top of whatever shenanigans their officers were up to in the first place.
    • by moeinvt ( 851793 )

      In certain states, you can surreptitiously record a conversation. In others, all parties must consent to being recorded. Police have tried to argue that "two party consent" laws apply in situations where police are interacting with citizens, but it hasn't held up in courts. There have also been 100s of recorded incidents where police have wrongly harassed and attacked people merely for trying to film them. They will claim that filming, even from a distance, constitutes "interference" in their activities

  • What you really need is an app that will geolocate and display your rights in whatever jurisdiction you're in. State by state or even international (languages become a problem here) it tells you what the cops can and can't do to you. It includes a script that says you won't be talking and asks the cop a pointed question. You could even make this run as an mp3, so you wouldn't have to talk at all.

    There used to be ads on cable TV for drunk drivers that showed some guy getting pulled over. When the cop ca

    • You have the same rights everywhere. The only thing that varies by jurisdiction is which of them are being infringed upon.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    = "black youths" being stopped and searched by the police, because blacks are more likely to be carrying weapons, and commit crimes, than other racial groups...

    Why aren't the police stopping and searching Japanese tourists, if they're 'racists'?

    • by N1AK ( 864906 )

      Why aren't the police stopping and searching Japanese tourists, if they're 'racists'?

      Because you don't have to discriminate against all races, or all races but your own, to be racist; it's hardly a complex concept but you seem to have failed to grasp it.

      I don't know if the kind of bollocks your on about gets much acceptance in the US, but fortunately there's a decent proportion of the population in the UK who think it's unacceptable for the police to target people because of the colour of their skin.

      • Why aren't the police stopping and searching Japanese tourists, if they're 'racists'?

        Because you don't have to discriminate against all races, or all races but your own, to be racist; it's hardly a complex concept but you seem to have failed to grasp it. I don't know if the kind of bollocks your on about gets much acceptance in the US, but fortunately there's a decent proportion of the population in the UK who think it's unacceptable for the police to target people because of the colour of their skin.

        Playing devil's advocate here (you understand what that means, right?).

        The cops would say they aren't targeting people because of skin color. They are targeting people who wear baggy pants several sizes too big so they can sag*, proudly sport gang-related tattoos (such as the teardrop tattoo, for fellow gangstas who got shot), wear big baggy jackets that could easily conceal weapons, throw gang signs, listen to gangsta rap, associate in large groups with likeminded people and often menace others on the

        • by dave420 ( 699308 )
          Sagging belts is a fashion statement, nothing else. You are reading way too much into this, which is hardly surprising for someone skirting so close to all-out racism...
    • = "black youths" being stopped and searched by the police, because blacks are more likely to be carrying weapons, and commit crimes, than other racial groups...

      Why aren't the police stopping and searching Japanese tourists, if they're 'racists'?

      Um, because they're identifiable as tourists?

      • = "black youths" being stopped and searched by the police, because blacks are more likely to be carrying weapons, and commit crimes, than other racial groups...

        Why aren't the police stopping and searching Japanese tourists, if they're 'racists'?

        Um, because they're identifiable as tourists?

        Explain how you could see a Japanese person walking down the street and know, with certainty, that they are a foreign tourist and not an American citizen who happens to be of Japanese descent? We are, after all, talking about how police target someone for an initial encounter. Any ID that is requested happens after that decision is made.

        • by sjames ( 1099 )

          If they're wearing 3 cameras, speaking Japanese and pointing at everything, they're clearly tourists. Others may be less obvious.

  • Many Apps in US (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sir Holo ( 531007 ) on Tuesday November 03, 2015 @09:30AM (#50855167)

    In the US, your State's ACLU probably has an App.

    The "CA Justice" app is great. Set it to record, and if anyone tries to operate your smartphone, it will immediately upload the recording to an ACLU server, along with date-time-GPS stamp, and later any info you want to add.

    Other Apps:

    • CopWatch
    • LegalObserver
    • Police Tape
    • Guerilla
    • Car Camera DVR
    • CarCamApp
  • ...get people killed? Why do software people think there's an app for ever problem? People are going to get shot reaching for their phone ('he was going for a gun...').

    • ...get people killed? Why do software people think there's an app for ever problem? People are going to get shot reaching for their phone ('he was going for a gun...').

      I see a market for a small camera that you mount inside your car that always points out the driver-side window. Press a button on your phone or on your dash and it starts streaming. By the time the cop walks to your car, you have your hands on the steering wheel where he can plainly see them.

      I agree that surprising a cop by reaching for anything in front of him is a really, terribly bad idea. I'm not telling anyone else what they should or should not do, but I will say this much: I wouldn't try it.

    • by nytes ( 231372 )

      Meh, I wouldn't be worried.

      I have this real cool cellphone case [dailymail.co.uk] that I'm certain would be very reassuring to the police.

  • Having been privy to what just exactly what goes on in cases on a number of ocassions I have to ask- why is any little nook or cranny of the jurisprudence apparatus not videoed and recorded 24/7? I am talking interviews of witnesses, DAs talking amongst themselves, investigator's notes, prisoners, wardens in fact every utterance of everyone involved in every aspect of every case should be memorialized. Futhermore, talking about cases while OFF the system should be forbidden and punished.

    If we're going to ha

    • Some witnesses will clam up if you shove a camera in their face.
      • Some "witnesses" will lie if they know they'll never be held accountable. I would think this pool is significantly larger than the clam up pool. Especially given plea deals, jailhouse confessions, and all the other prods prosecutors have at their disposal to make people say what they want them to say irrespective of the truth.

        It's come to my attention later than it should have that people are not afraid to lie and lie big for a mind-boggling variety of reasons. Ask any cop and they will tell you people do

        • Most people don't even want to be interviewed on TV or the radio. And look how few people use their real name here ... Many people are shy when not in their natural environment. Certainly jails, court houses, or any contact with the justice system is already intimidating enough for most people.

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