New voice-activated mobile app allows Tallahassee residents to record interactions with law enforcement

Published: Mar. 24, 2021 at 7:25 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The City of Tallahassee is preparing to release a new smartphone app.

“Tallahassee Bystander” will allow people to record and stream their interactions with law enforcement.

The application is set to be available this spring.

This new technology will let people activate their smartphone camera with voice command; the camera can then stream video interactions with law enforcement to up to three personal contacts.

The video will also go to a TPD video portal where it will be documented.

The City approved the creation of the app in June 2020 after meetings with Black Lives Matter protesters and law enforcement leaders.

The City has worked with the community group, “More than a Name”, in bi-weekly meetings to create the app.

City Commissioner Dianne Williams-Cox says she’s excited to merge technology with human need helping residents feel safe.

“And if they find that they don’t feel safe, or something happens, we at least have some proof to go back to,” said Williams-Cox. “In this day and time, you really need video, audio, and those kinds of things to be able to backtrack and find out what happens. so i think this is a great step in the right direction to make sure we can document what happens.”

Similar apps exist right now, but according to the agenda item, TPD is going to be the first agency in the country to have this app.

The app has a hands-free option, recording with multiple contacts and streaming to a portal for review. App users will also have the option to remain anonymous.

Williams-Cox also commended TPD for working with the city on the creation of the app.

TPD Chief Lawrence Revell gave a presentation to Commissioners during Wednesday’s meeting about the process.

“This is just again, a great example of collaboration between law enforcement and our community to be transparent, to give our community tools to connect with us, and to reach out,” said Revell. “This is something that we’re going to be the first on, and I think you’ll see it launch across the entire country.”

Chief Revell says the community was clear about the desire for specifically a hands-free app; he says that’s in the best interest of police as well.

“We wanted that too; we don’t want people handling things when we’re in the middle of an interaction,” explained Revell.

Chief Revell says if users have their notifications on, TPD can also communicate with them directly about community-related events.

Commissioner Curtis Richardson pointed out that this app is the second tangible action taken by the City after Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020; the Commission also voted to create the Citizen’s Police Review Board, which met for the first time at the beginning of March.

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