App for That

New York Civil Liberties Union’s ‘Big News’? An App to Combat Stop and Frisk

The NYCLU will introduce an app to watch the watchers this week.
nypd dog New York Civil Liberties Unions Big News? An App to Combat Stop and Frisk

(Flickr: H.L.I.T.)

The New York Civil Liberties Union is releasing “Stop and Frisk Watch,” an Android app that will allow potential friskees to help monitor the controversial practice, according to an email forwarded to Betabeat. Among other things, the app will automatically upload a video if confiscated by the police. The app will be announced tomorrow and released Wednesday.

The organization has been monitoring and speaking out for years against overzealous stop and frisks, which it says amount to racial profiling and date back to 1999. Police have been stopping and searching large numbers of people in mostly poor communities in New York on a wide range of pretenses, say the NYCLU and other activists, and the practice has had a disproportionately punishing effect on black and Latino men, who find themselves arrested for carrying small amounts of marijuana. The organization sued the city to get the NYPD’s electronic database of stop and frisk records in 2007. According to the NYCLU, the NYPD had 685,724 stops in 2011, an increase of 14 percent over the year before.

“Black and Latino New Yorkers were more likely to be frisked than whites and, among those frisked, were less likely to be found with a weapon,” the organization said in its 2011 report.

NYCLU has been following stop and frisk for years, but the issue was recently reignited after criticism that the practice had resulted in an inordinate number of arrests for possession of small amounts of pot. Council Speaker Christine Quinn called for reforms to the practice. Even governor Andrew Cuomo and police commissioner Ray Kelly acknowledged the problem.

The issue was also picked up by Occupy Wall Street protesters and got some attention when Princeton professor Cornel West marched with protesters in Harlem last fall. (Details about the app have not been released, but it sounds not unlike the Occupy Wall Street version: “I’m Getting Arrested.”)

“We are announcing an innovative new tool that will empower New Yorkers to monitor police activity,” a representative for the NYCLU said, but declined to comment further in advance of the official press conference.

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