You have the constitutional right to record video and audio of police in public space.
But that hasn’t stopped law enforcement from erasing incriminating footage from cameras and cell phones and even arresting people for lawfully recording police action. In 2013, cops detained Detroit Free Press photographer Mandi Wright for filming police from a public street, and they managed to “lose” her memory card and leave her alone with a suspect she had been filming from a public street.
Now the ACLU of Michigan has come up with a clever way to ensure that recordings survive even if police erase the files from your phone. On Wednesday, the civil liberties group launched a free mobile app, called Mobile Justice MI, that allows you to record police action while the footage is simultaneously sent to the ACLU of Michigan.
“It’s every citizen’s right to film the police, and we believe that accountability is essential to building trust between communities and law enforcement and to creating confidence that the criminal justice system is fair,” said Kary Moss, executive director of the ACLU of Michigan.
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“With this app, we empower citizens to know their rights and to document life-threatening interactions.”
The ubiquity of cell phone cameras has helped reveal police misconduct nationwide, prompting protests and raising serious questions about racial prejudices within law enforcement.
The app, which is available for iOS and Android versions, also allows users to alert the public “when someone is stopped by police so that community members can move toward the location and document the interaction.”
Users also can file complaints to the ACLU of Michigan.
The app also has a host of information about your right to record police and other public officials.
Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.