The app, dubbed “Police Tape,” allows people to securely and inconspicuously record interactions with police officers. Currently the app is only available on Android devices, but another version for the iPhone will be released later in the summer. The ACLU says the device will act as a critical tool for monitoring the actions of law enforcement officers.
The ACLU’s New Jersey executive director, Deborah Jacobs, said, “Too often, incidents of serious misconduct go unreported because citizens don’t feel that they will be believed.” She says this app should go a long way to remedying that worry.
Unlike most, if not all, recording apps, “Police Tape” disappears from the screen once it has been launched, reducing the likelihood that a police officer will notice that the device has been engaged. The app also allows users to electronically transmit the file to the ACLU for safekeeping and review. The program also contains legal information concerning the rights of citizens when confronted by police.
The recent announcement follows not far behind another app by the New York branch of the organization called “Stop & Frisk Watch.” The app does much the same thing, allowing citizens to clandestinely tape the NYPD police during a stop and relay the information to the local branch. According to the New York Amsterdam news, over 2,000 videos have been sent in thus far. Unlike “Police Tape,” when “Stop-and-Frisk Watch” is activated, it also triggers an alert to warn nearby users that a police stop is happening.
When recording police officers it’s critically important to know the law in your state. In Mississippi, as long as one party consents to the recording (yourself) you are allowed to record police, as long as you don’t physically interfere with their work. Most states have similar rules, in fact, according the Reporters Committee For Freedom of the Press, Massachusetts is the only state to uphold a conviction for recording on-duty police. Even so, it’s important to remember to be polite and don’t attempt to incite officers.