ACLU launches app to record videos of police
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A new smartphone app allows Californians to record interactions with police and send the videos to their local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

The Mobile Justice CA app, launched Thursday, ensures that recordings of law enforcement are preserved, even if a user's phone is damaged, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“As we’ve seen in headlines over the previous few months, recordings by members of the public is a crucial check on police abuse, “ said Peter Bibring, the senior attorney for the ACLU of Southern California, according to the Times.

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“We’ve seen a number of examples of high-profile incidents of abuse and unlawful shootings or killings that never would have come to light if someone hadn’t pulled out their phone and taken video,” he added.

Bibring said the app was available on Android and Apple devices. ACLU chapters in other states, including Oregon, Missouri and New York, have already released similar apps,

Bibring said the program records video of a potential incident and sends a duplicate copy to the user’s local ACLU chapter. It also flags other nearby users to the location of the incident, he added.

“Video doesn’t always capture everything, but it does provide a much more objective evidence of what actually happened,” Bibring argued.

He also cited a recent case in South Gate, Calif., where a police officer destroyed a woman's phone during a confrontation.

“The right to film police is clearly established, and even so, we see incidents like that,” he said.

The app’s release follows a string of incidents nationwide, where black men have been killed after encounters with police, sparking a debate over race and policing.

Riots erupted in Baltimore on Monday over the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year old black man, who died earlier this month from a spinal injury suffered while under police custody.

In another case, Walter Scott, an unarmed black man, was shot and killed in North Charleston, S.C., earlier this spring after a traffic stop.

Scott’s death sparked mass outrage, when graphic footage of the incident emerged on video, apparently showing a police officer shooting him as he fled.

Democratic lawmakers have also proposed legislation that would require police officers to wear body cameras to record encounters. The Justice Department is also moving to provide more funding for police cameras and training.