Tallahassee, FL – A new mobile app that helps users record their interactions with police was unveiled by the Tallahassee Police Department (TPD) and city officials outside police headquarters on Tuesday.
Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey touted the “Tallahassee Bystander” app as “the first of its kind in the nation,” and said it is “fully endorsed” by the TPD, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.
“That is something every citizen in Tallahassee should be very proud of,” Dailey declared.
The new app can be activated by simply saying, “Bystander, record,” WCTV reported.
“We wanted to make sure this was hands free, voice activated, so that again, people could keep their hands where the officers could see them and not be digging around looking for something in the car, so it’s safer for the officer, and it’s certainly safer for the citizen as well,” TPD Chief Lawrence Revell said during the press conference.
It then livestreams copies of the videos directly to the TPD, as well as to the user’s phone and to three anonymous “emergency contacts” entered by the user, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.
The footage cannot be censored once it begins recording.
Users do not need to register to use the app, so the videos they submit can remain anonymous, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.
The technology also enables the TPD to use push notification to reach out to users who submit information to gather more details without the users having to reveal their identities.
The new app came with a $50,000 price tag for the city, which the City Commission approved in June of 2020, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.
It was developed over the course of the past year as a collective effort between local non-profit More Than a Name, the City of Tallahassee Technology and Innovation Department, and Quadrant 2, a company based out of New York.
The app became available to the public Tuesday morning via the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.
“We are here for our community,” Chief Revell said. “We want to listen and continue to collaborate on ways to strengthen our relationships with the community and the launch of this app really highlights that.”
The app was created at the demand of protesters who were outraged over three local officer-involved shootings that took place last year, as well as the in-custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.
Grand juries determined all three of the local shootings were justified.
“It’s no big secret that last summer was a very difficult time in society all across the world, across the United States, across the state of Florida, and right here in Tallahassee,” Dailey said during the press conference. “It’s also no big secret that each and every day, we step up as a city. We try to increase public trust in our city government, in our police department, and increase transparency.”
The mayor said the app “provides everybody with another level of comfort” and a new way to interact with the police department, WCTV reported.
“Quite frankly, it helps our citizens and it helps the police department,” he said.
The city has also established a Citizens Advisory Committee, a mental health response team, and has conducted a full audit of the TPD’s use-of-force policy over the course of the past year, WCTV reported.
TPD Citizens Advisory Council Chair Pastor Rudy Ferguson urged Tallahassee residents to download and utilize the Tallahassee Bystander app.
“I want to encourage as a citizen, our community, my community, the Griffin Heights community, to download this app. To make it a part of your citizen responsibility. To make sure that you play a role,” Ferguson said, according to WCTV.