ACLU Releases Public Safety Video Recording App

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) recently released a new smartphone application that will provide the public with a mechanism to video record and report police officer encounters. The Mobile Justice app is being provided for free by the ACLU.

As reported by The Daily Record,

“We now have an even more powerful tool to avoid the police confiscating your phones,” said [Susan] Goering [Executive Director, ACLU Maryland Chapter]. “This is a powerful app that Marylanders can use to hold law enforcement agents accountable and now anyone with a smartphone can decide when you see racial profiling or over-policing or police abuse, you can decide to whip out your phone and take a picture — it will be there, taken up to the clouds where it will be protected.”

Law enforcement has expressed concern with the app.

Dave Rose, a vice president for the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 4 in Baltimore County, said cellphone video “exists like gravity.”

“Is it going to change how policing is done? I don’t think so,” said Rose. “Our guys know when they go to a scene that there’s going to be five or six people shooting video. You can’t go anywhere where there’s not a camera. In the end, I still have to justify my actions as a police officer.”

Users of the app will be able to report police interactions and upload video to the ACLU’s online storage system. ACLU staff will be able to review the footage to determine if legal action is advised, but the public will not be able to view the video.

MACo’s 2015 Winter Conference will feature a session titled “I Spy With My Little Eye – Police Body Cameras and the Public Information Act.” Speakers will include representatives from Baltimore City and the ACLU.

Description: As Maryland and its counties move toward implementing a broad police body camera policy, one key issue that must be addressed is how to treat body camera footage under the Maryland Public Information Act. Such footage poses genuine privacy, technical, and practical challenges to county governments that the Act does not specifically address. Panelists will provide an overview of how the Act currently handles body camera footage, highlight the benefits and challenges the footage poses, and offer differing perspectives on whether and how body camera footage should be treated differently under the Act.

Speakers:

  • Hilary Ruley, Chief Solicitor, General Counsel Division, Baltimore City
  • David Rocah, Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU of Maryland

Moderator: The Honorable Tari Moore, County Executive, Cecil County

Date/Time: Thursday, December 10, 2015; 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

Learn more about MACo’s Winter Conference:

Questions? Contact Meetings & Events Director Virginia White.

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