WITNESS talks to The Outline about racially insensitive app

Since the start of 2018, there has been a variety of incidents where the police have been called on people of color for alleged “suspicious activity.” For example, just last month the police were called in Northampton, MA on a black Smith College graduate student eating her lunch, who according to a staff member, “seemed to be out of place.”

Now, it will become easier for people, particularly racists to call the police over what they deem “suspicious activity.” Thanks to an app called the App Task Force, people can now “help police agencies reduce criminal activity and improve community policing in their jurisdiction.” According to the app’s “about” section, citizens who have no police training can “download the app and use it to report suspicious and potentially criminal activity … in real time.”

While apps like App Task Force vow that they will let citizens expose criminal behavior, we at WITNESS think that this will only lead to more racial profiling and unfair arrests. In this extremely toxic political climate where white officers mistreat people of color, apps like these aren’t helping create more transparency and accountability for the police, in fact, they’re doing the opposite.

Read what our U.S. Program Manager Jackie Zammuto had to say to The Outline about how the intersection of policing and technology can be problematic here.


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