Police video recording app Mobile Justice coming to Tampa Bay

Posted at 9:12 PM, Jul 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-21 00:51:03-04

Tensions on the streets are high for people and law enforcement.

The Pasco County Sheriff's Office is the only law enforcement agency in Tampa Bay fully using body-worn cameras. Other states are passing laws blocking people's access to police body cam video.

To address part of the problem, Florida's ACLU wants to bring an app called Mobile Justice to Tampa Bay. The app allows you to record an interaction with police, and the moment you hit stop, the app automatically sends the video to the state's ACLU office for review.

"Some people reported that their phones have been seized and the videos erased after they recorded activity. This app would make sure that this didn't happen," said Adam Trebrugge with ACLU.

Once a video is sent, you can later fill out a report for ACLU to review. Currently, the app is being used in 17 states and in Washington, D.C. However, Florida's wire tapping laws have kept it from being available here now, but the ACLU says that's going to change.

"We are working to develop this app for the state of Florida," said Trebrugge.

Many believe the app will help reduce the use of excessive police force. The I-Team and Scripps investigators across the country dug into use of force data from local law enforcement agencies last November. Despite what's been happening in recent weeks, we found the use of excessive force here in Tampa Bay -- and across the country -- was down from previous years.

"The vast majority of officers are doing their jobs," said Dr Sorle Diih.

Dr. Diih is a professor at the University of Tampa, and has worked for more than 20 years at the New York Police Department. He said both citizens and police have a responsibility to be civil during a traffic stop. He said he believes video recordings can help protect both the person and the officer.

"If we're going to make improvements in policing, then we need an educated workforce, and that's what I tell the students," said Dr. Diih.

The ACLU says the free Mobile Justice app could be here by the fall of 2016.