CHICAGO – A black man in Chicago works on providing aid in police transparency by creating an app that would rate police interactions and help promote better police-community relations.
Channing Harris, a son of a police dispatcher and a CEO of Excuse Me Officer, said in an interview with DNAinfo, “I want to show the hero cops and the bad cops. The media wants to focus on the bad story so much that the hero cops get ignored.”
Harris said he created the app and website that will allow residents to report police interactions and provide an interactive map of reports filed near the user’s location.
Harris got the idea around October 2015 when a good female friend was severely beaten by an off-duty officer and had a ruptured appendix because of the struggle. This gave him the idea of starting a Facebook page which was followed by a website and app, the report said.
Harris believes that exposing poor police behavior and informing community of potentially awful cops will help keep them honest. He said that because of being black, he still experiences the struggle every day despite having a family member in law enforcement.
On the other hand, sharing stories of good and heroic police work will encourage police officers and let them know their help is appreciated by the community they serve and protect.
Having both elements present, Harris hopes this can be a “win-win’ solution for both parties.
Based on the report, these are the key points in using the app:
- A user who experienced a police interaction can upload the date, time and location of the interaction and their testimonial.
- The user can upload a video or photo to back up their claim.
- The report will then be available for other app or website users to browse.
- Users will be shown reports filed nearest their location, and they will be sorted by police districts.
- Officers’ names will not be made public, but users can upload badge numbers for their own record keeping.
The reports made on the app will not count as official police misconduct reports. However, district commanders can assess the situation and make changes, if necessary.
The app won’t be launched until Dec. 5, but the beta version of the website is live and is collecting reports. There will also be a forum Nov. 5, which will serve as a marketing event and a place for police and community interaction, Harris said.
There are nearly 60,000 reports uploaded on his website and Harris is not sure if this huge data will all go on the app. Harris and his partners just got first place at the South Side Pitch and won $4,000 in seed funding. He hopes to extend the idea nationwide but preferred to launch in Chicago for a specific reason. “Chicago probably needs it the most,” he said. “I don’t know if there would be the same amount of passion [in the project] if I didn’t know it was so needed here.”
The report did not mention whether this Yelp-like app will allow an officer to correct false perceptions, or misunderstood intentions in a public format. While it theoretical sounds good, people could easily abuse it if they have an axe to grind against cops.