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Friday, December 8, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

This Should Put NYCLU in Tight With Cops

MANHATTAN (CN) - The NYCLU released a "Stop and Frisk Watch" iPhone app, to help people record New York City police stops, which have been challenged in three federal lawsuits.

The New York Civil Liberties Union's new iPhone app joins a similar Android application, released in June 2012.

The NYCLU claims that nearly 20,000 New Yorkers have downloaded its Android program.

Android users have sent the civil liberties group more than 5,000 videos and more than 1,000 written reports, the NYCLU said in a statement.

Roughly 48 percent of smartphone users use Android software, making it the most widely used platform on the global market, TechCrunch reported last summer.

Weeks before the Android app was released, a federal judge in Manhattan certified a class action that could bring court oversight to the NYPD's stop-and-frisk program.

That lawsuit and two other class actions challenging different aspects of the stop-and-frisk program have been wending their ways though Manhattan Federal Court.

NYCLU director Donna Lieberman said this week that the iPhone app will keep up pressure on the police practice.

"The NYPD's own data shows that the overwhelming majority of people subjected to stop-and-frisk are black or Latino, and innocent of any wrongdoing," Lieberman said. "Our smart phone app allows individuals and community groups to document in real time how each unjustified stop further corrodes trust between communities and law enforcement."

Police have filled out more than 2.8 million forms, known as UF-250s, documenting stops between 2004 and 2009.

Columbia Professor Jeffrey Fagan's analysis found that roughly 5 percent of the stops resulted in an arrest, and about 6 percent produced a summons.

More than 80 percent of the people stopped were black or Latino, Fagan found.

New York City's population in 2011 was 51 percent black and Latino, and 33 percent white, according to city-data.com.

The smartphone app contains features that allow users to send their videos to the NYCLU for documentation and analysis, and to alert people when a police stop is happening nearby. Users also can report incidents that were not filmed by filling out a form on the app.

Lieberman said that the Android version had not captured a "'Rodney King' moment" but served as a "powerful tool to document police abuse."

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