Best Apps to Securely Record the Police Encounters On Android And iOS
What have we learned from the recent civil disturbances that took place in Ferguson, Baltimore and South Carolina? The lessons are numerous, but there is a common aspect that incited indignation and civil disobedience. The lesson can be summed up as follows: Bystanders who digitally record acts of police brutality can be instrumental in ensuring that justice is served in cases of police brutality.
American communities have long suspected that violence and discrimination are prevalent in police departments across the United States. Police brutality is one of the most insidious cancers of our criminal justice system, and it has gone unchecked for far too long. In Ferguson, Baltimore and South Carolina, unarmed African American males died after encounters with law enforcement officers; we know this because bystanders pulled out their smartphones and recorded the incidents.
By recording police actions, citizens are holding governments responsible for their actions. This is part of the social contract, whereby citizens understand that equal protection under the law is the basis of a free democracy.
The Legality of Smartphone Recording
It is important for citizens of the U.S. to understand that they have the right to record police actions and anything that is in plain sight as long as it takes place in public. There is no reasonable expectation of privacy for civilians in a public space, and the same applies to law enforcement officers. If you are in doubt of your rights as witness taking photographs or recording actions with a smartphone, you should visit the website of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and become familiar with your rights.
A word of caution about recording police interactions on video: Many police officers will not take kindly to being recorded, and thus they may resort to witness intimidation, harassment, detention, and even destruction of smartphones when they see a witness filming them. Thankfully, the mobile apps below make it easier to record and preserve evidence even when a corrupt police officer attempts to confiscate or destroy.
Hands Up 4 Justice
This iPhone app was developed in the wake of the Ferguson riots, and it is very comprehensive in terms of allowing discreet recording and remotely backing up evidence. This app works better when the GPS function is turned on, and it uses either YouTube or Dropbox for remote video storage.
Stop and Frisk Watch
This mobile app, which was developed by the New York Civil Liberties Union, runs on both iOS and Android-powered devices. The three main functions of this app are: recording, monitoring and reporting. It can be used for many purposes, but the main one is to keep tabs on arbitrary police stops.
I’m Getting Arrested
This Android app is recommended for those who are actively seeking to record police interactions and who may also engage in civil protests. In case of an arrest, this app can quickly send programmed text messages to friends, relatives and attorneys.