DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Texans realize that police have the technology to record traffic stops, but what if the public had access to similar technology? “If a police officer gets out of line or just kind of scares you even a little bit, you have a tool,” said April McLendon of Dallas. “I think it’s a great idea”
The ACLU of New Jersey now offers residents in that state an app for their Smartphones that allows them to secretly record police stops.
Tourist, Mike Coldwell isn’t a fan. “I’m not so in favor of that. We need to be honest with the cops, just like they are with us and give them the same kind of consideration,” said Coldwell.
The ACLU of New Jersey is making its case with a claymation promotional video that shows the Statue Of Liberty being stopped by an officer.
The app is called “Police Tape” and it has caught the attention of the ACLU of Texas. “We’re very interested in it,” said Dottie Griffith, who is Public Education Director for the ACLU of Texas. First of all, our New Jersey affiliate has gotten a huge response and that’s always impressive,” Griffith added. “Anything that wakes up people to their civil liberties makes us happy.”
Griffith says the ACLU of Texas hopes to offer a similar app to Texans sometime this fall.
Dallas attorney, John Teakell specializes in criminal law and says he doesn’t see any legal challenges standing in the way. “It appears to be the same basic principle that you can record a conversation in most states in which you’re participating,” explained Teakell.
What makes this app different from a simple camera phone is that the app disappears from the screen when activated, so that it can’t be switched off by a police officer. The recordings are then stored in an area of the phone that most officers would have trouble finding or deleting. From there, the recordings can be automatically uploaded to a secure ACLU server as a back-up.
Dallas Police Association President, Ron Pinkston, doesn’t expect an uproar from his fellow police officers since stops involving patrol cars are already recorded. “Officers won’t even care,” said Pinkston. “They’re always under the assumption that there’s always video. It’s nothing new for Dallas officers. We’ve been doing it for about five years,” Pinkston added.
Texans who want to download the New Jersey app should think twice before doing so. The ACLU in each state must develop its own app because each state has its own set of laws that govern audio and visual recordings.