Tallahassee officials are preparing to release an app as an initiative to encourage safer interactions between law enforcement and the community.
The app has been in development since last summer, following the social unrest across the nation in the aftermath of police killings, including three officer-involved fatal shootings of Black men in Tallahassee.
“This app is definitely a step in the right direction to rebuild trust in the community. I would be open to downloading it and recording encounters I may witness with police officers. I feel that sometimes officers do not always turn on their body cams during an altercation so this would be another way for people to hold law enforcement accountable,” said Florida A&M University alumna Emily Powell-Abreu.
Local leaders say they are committed to providing a safer environment for all.
Tallahassee police officials, community organizations, students as well as mobile justice developers have joined forces to bring this concept to life.
The Tallahassee Bystander app allows eyewitnesses to record activity between law enforcement with a hands-free setting that can be enabled by voice activation. App users are allowed three personal contacts — the individuals who will have access to see the live stream as you are recording.
Once the recording has ended, the video footage will be sent to TPD where it will be reviewed and archived.
“It is necessary to include the hands-free recording feature because violent encounters continue to take place while in the hands of police officers. For years the Black community has experienced far too many incidents that have either resulted in death, misconduct or false arrests. Another beneficial feature that could go along with the hands-free setting is if the recorded footage automatically is posted to the user’s social media platforms as well,” said Black News Channel Director Lauren Coleman.
Donovan Hood, a Florida A&M Marching 100 band member said the app may have a notable downside.
“I would be open to using this app for interactions with law enforcement, depending on if it would invade my privacy rights or not — such as recording everything around my phone 24/7 like other social platforms are beginning to do,” Hood said.
Tallahassee Bystander is almost complete and predicted to officially launch this spring. Anybody can download it from the Google Play Store and Apple Store.
“I do believe that the app has potential to promote community inclusiveness. It’s just about spreading awareness that there is an app out so that it can be useful for residents,” Coleman. said