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US City of Tallahassee and police unveil app for residents to record interactions with officers

11:30  05 september  2021
11:30  05 september  2021 Source:   usatoday.com

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The City of Tallahassee and the Tallahassee Police Department introduced a new way for residents to interact with police – a "first of its kind" mobile phone application that, among other things, can record interactions with officers.

graphical user interface, application: A screenshot of the Tallahassee Bystander app now available on Apple and Android devices © Special to the Democrat A screenshot of the Tallahassee Bystander app now available on Apple and Android devices

Tallahassee Bystander hit app stores Tuesday morning.

The app was developed over the past year by the city's Technology and Innovation Department in partnership with Tesia Lisbon and Paul Woodly from local non-profit More Than a Name and local company Quadrant 2.

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According to the police department, videos recording on the app stream off the phone live, so that when a video starts, it cannot be censored or edited. The app also does not require registration, so video submissions are anonymous. If the police department wants to reach out for more information about a submission, it is done via push notification to further maintain anonymity.

a man wearing a suit and tie: during a press conference held by the city of Tallahassee and Tallahassee Police Department to introduce the Tallahassee Bystander app at TPD Headquarters Tuesday, August 24, 2021. © Tori Lynn Schneider/Tallahassee Democrat during a press conference held by the city of Tallahassee and Tallahassee Police Department to introduce the Tallahassee Bystander app at TPD Headquarters Tuesday, August 24, 2021.

Videos are submitted to multiple parties when recorded. One copy of the video saves to the phone, one will stream to TPD, and another streams to three anonymous emergency contacts set by the submitter.

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At a press conference held to unveil the app, Police Chief Lawrence Revell thanked all who were involved in its development.

"We are here for our community," Revell said. "We want to listen and continue to collaborate on ways to strengthen our relationships with the community and the launch of this app really highlights that."

The City Commission last June allocated $50,000 for the creation of the app. It is available for download now in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. Although similar apps exist, such as the American Civil Liberties Union's Mobile Justice app, Tallahassee is the first city to support and release such technology.

Mayor John Dailey said the app represents City Hall and police working together to build trust and transparency in the community.

"This is the first of its kind in the nation," Dailey said. "And the first of its kind [that is] fully endorsed by a police department. That is something every citizen in Tallahassee should be very proud of."

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a group of people standing next to a man in a suit and tie: City officials and Rev. Rudy Ferguson, chair of the Tallahassee Police Department's Citizens Advisory Committee, attend a press conference held by the city of Tallahassee and Tallahassee Police Department to introduce the Tallahassee Bystander app at TPD Headquarters Tuesday, August 24, 2021. © Tori Lynn Schneider/Tallahassee Democrat City officials and Rev. Rudy Ferguson, chair of the Tallahassee Police Department's Citizens Advisory Committee, attend a press conference held by the city of Tallahassee and Tallahassee Police Department to introduce the Tallahassee Bystander app at TPD Headquarters Tuesday, August 24, 2021.

Last year's protests in Tallahassee following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police sparked calls for more transparency within the community.

At the same time, Tallahassee was grappling with the fallout from three local police shootings a grand jury later determined were justified use of force by officers. The app was one of the demands that protesters made of the city during large and loud protests outside of TPD headquarters.

"It's no big secret that last summer was a very difficult time in society all across the world, across the United States, across the state of Florida, and right here in Tallahassee," Dailey said. "It's also no big secret that each and every day, we step up as a city. We try to increase public trust in our city government, in our police department, and increase transparency."

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a man wearing a suit and tie talking on a cell phone: Local attorney and NAACP Tallahassee President Mutaqee Akbar addresses concerns sparked over the viral video recorded on May 17, 2021 of the arrest of Jacquez Kirkland on Friday, May 21, 2021. © Alicia Devine/Tallahassee Democrat Local attorney and NAACP Tallahassee President Mutaqee Akbar addresses concerns sparked over the viral video recorded on May 17, 2021 of the arrest of Jacquez Kirkland on Friday, May 21, 2021.

Tallahassee NAACP Branch President Mutaqee Akbar, a voice in the crowd of those calling for transparency from police, said he hasn't seen the full application yet, but believes it's a step in the right direction.

"Anything that increases transparency and that bridges that gap between the community and law enforcement, I think is necessary and needed," he said.

Follow Tori Lynn Schneider on Twitter @photoriphy

This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: City of Tallahassee and police unveil app for residents to record interactions with officers

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