Two college students have developed a mobile app designed to “counter excessive uses of force by police officers,” according to CNN.
The app, called SWAT, gives people who witness police brutality the ability to film and live stream video of an incident directly to the app’s servers. Once the team at SWAT receives the video, they can store it securely to ensure that it doesn’t get destroyed or seized by authorities. SWAT staffers can also forward a copy to law enforcement authorities in addition to storing it.
Students Brandon Anderson and Joe Gruenbaum, who created the app, say the fact that a great number of police brutality cases go unreported annually is largely due to people being unaware of their rights when they witness such incidents.
“Something like a million criminal cases are compromised each year in the United States because people don't know their rights when it comes to their interactions with the police,” Gruenbaum told CNN. “And that includes the right to record the police."
SWAT will ultimately give people the ability not only to document cases of brutality on video, but also to file police reports directly from the app, which will then be sent to local authorities. When someone files a report via the app, they instantly are sent a summary of their local rights.
“We want to make sure that people understand completely their protections, constitutionally and legally, when they're interacting with the police,” Gruenbaum said.
Anderson says that the app was partially inspired by his personal experience with police brutality, which involved his partner succumbing to injuries sustained during a conflict with police officers.
“I lost my partner to police brutality, and the cops got away with it because of a lack of evidence,” Anderson said.
Gruenbaum and Anderson say that the app was also inspired by the fatal shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri.