ACLU of Nebraska Releases Law Enforcement Accountability App
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LINCOLN – Today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska launched a smart phone application (app) called Mobile Justice Nebraska. Mobile Justice Nebraska is based on successful apps utilized in other states and was developed in response to citizen requests for a tool to document potential civil rights violations. The release of this new app builds upon reports released by the ACLU of Nebraska this summer documenting the need for more comprehensive and uniform policies surrounding citizen complaint procedures, the use of Tasers, and racial profiling. The release of this app also builds upon a national conversation about improving law enforcement accountability with the use of car and body cameras to document citizen interactions and potential violations.
The Android app can be downloaded free through the ACLU of Nebraska website. The app has record, witness, and report functions. The app also puts basic information about civil rights into the hands of smart phone users. The record function allows citizens to capture exchanges between police officers and citizens in audio and video files that are sent to the ACLU of Nebraska for evaluation. The witness function sends out an alert when citizens want to alert other app users that additional documentation may be needed. The report function gives the user the option to complete an incident report and send it directly to the ACLU of Nebraska for review. The Know Your Rights function provides an overview of our popular civil rights training materials.
“The inscription over the main entrance to our State Capitol reads ‘The Salvation of the State is Watchfulness of the Citizen ’. This new technology furthers this deeply held Nebraska value and expands civic education efforts,” said ACLU of Nebraska Executive Director Danielle Conrad.
In March of 2013, 32 officers of the Omaha Police Department entered the home of the Johnson family in response to a parking ticket. Charges were filed against multiple officers. A civil suit, filed by the ACLU, was recently moved forward by a judge in Douglas County. A video of the incident was captured by a neighbor and posted online.
“A neighbor stepped forward and recorded documentation about this case. That evidence is crucial to ensuring justice for the Johnson family. Everyone has the right to film law enforcement and this tool provides clarity for citizens and law enforcement to make sure everyone’s rights are respected,” said Amy Miller, Legal Director for the ACLU of Nebraska.
ACLU affiliates in Mississippi, Oregon and Missouri are joining the ACLU of Nebraska in releasing the Mobile Justice app today. Funded by a grant from the National ACLU, the Mobile Justice app was developed by Quadrant 2 – the same developer that created the Stop and Frisk Watch app for the New York Civil Liberties Union to address racial profiling. An iPhone version of Mobile Justice will be released at a later date.
“Since the NYCLU released its app in 2012, it has been downloaded more than 30,000 times and the New York Police Department’s use of street stops has declined by more than half,” explains Sarah Rossi, the ACLU of Missouri’s director of advocacy and policy. “These numbers tell us that this type of app is sorely needed and can positively impact our communities.”
The ACLU is working with community organizations to provide “Know Your Rights” trainings on how to use the app as well as basic rights related to interactions with law enforcement. Groups are encouraged to contact the ACLU to arrange a training.
A training open to the general public will take place in Omaha on Friday, November 21 from 5:30-7:30 pm at the Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center, 6001 Dodge Street.
To download the app, visit http://www.aclunebraska.org/mobilejustice
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