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ACLU offers app for citizens to tape cops in stops

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey is offering an app so citizens can “discreetly record and store” interactions with law enforcement personnel.

The Police Tape app, developed by OpenWatch, also provides information on citizen’s rights. The nonprofit is offering the app at no charge.

“This app provides an essential tool for police accountability,” said ACLU-NJ executive director Deborah Jacobs. “Too often incidents of serious misconduct go unreported because citizens don’t feel that they will be believed. Here, the technology empowers citizens to place a check on police power directly.”

The app debuted just before the July 4 holiday, because, according to the ACLU-NJ, of a “frequency of altercations between citizens and seasonal police at the shore."

Currently the Police Tape app is available only for the Android. Approval from Apple’s iPhone is pending.

“Historically, vivid images of police mistreating citizens have seared our public consciousness and in some cases spurred important changes,” said ACLU-NJ policy counsel Alexander Shalom. “Photos and video are critical to ensuring police accountability and police should know that the eyes of the public are on them at all times.”

One of the more infamous recordings of a citizen’s encounter with police is George Holliday’s 1991 videotape of Los Angeles Police Department officers beating Rodney King, who recently died.

The “Police Tape”  Android app, promoted by the ACLU-NJ in a video called “Lady Liberty’s run-in with police,” is available at http://www.aclu-nj.org/yourrights/the-app-place/.

The New York Civil Liberties Union released a similar app in June. A broad coalition of activist groups is campaigning against New York City's stop-and-frisk policy.

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