“Driving While Black” Joins New Smartphone Apps For Police Encounters


A “Driving While Black” smartphone application is set for release this month, but its developers say motorists should be careful when they use it, reports the Associated Press. “Do not reach for your phone when you are talking to police,” said Portland, Or., attorney Melvin Oden-Orr, who created the app with another lawyer and a software developer. Avoiding any move that could make officers think you’re reaching for a gun is just one of the tips “Driving While Black” offers. Despite its attention-grabbing name, the common-sense advice it offers applies to motorists of all races.

The app describes how people can assert their civil rights with officers, enables drivers to alert friends and family that they’ve been pulled over, and includes a recording function to document the interaction. With attention focused on police killings of unarmed black people, it’s one of several free smartphone applications that aim to help people navigate encounters with law enforcement. “Five-O” was released by three Georgia teenagers for people to create their own “incident reports” on police encounters, and contribute to community databases that rate how individual officers treat people. “Mobile Justice,” issued by American Civil Liberties Union affiliates in four states, enables users to record and upload video of police encounters so that ACLU lawyers can look for due-process violations.

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