NEW YORK (Reuters) - Determined to keep tabs on New York City police officers' "stop-and-frisk" campaign? There's an app for that.
A new smartphone app created by the New York Civil Liberties Union, "Stop and Frisk Watch," allows witnesses of the controversial New York City Police Department tactic to video and report incidents.
The NYCLU app has three main functions:
* "Record," which allows bystanders to video an incident and send the video to the group with a shake of their phones;
* "Listen," which alerts users when searches are being conducted near them; and
* "Report," which allows users to send the NYCLU information about searches that were not filmed.
The app is intended for use by people witnessing a police encounter, not by individuals who are the subject of a police stop, the NYCLU said.
More than 200,000 searches were conducted by the New York police in the first three months of 2012, a 10 percent increase from 2011. More than three-quarters of those searched are black or Latino.
Police Deputy Commissioner Paul J. Browne said in an emailed statement the department has many problems with the app, stressing among other things privacy concerns for those depicted in videos and that criminals may be able to use the "Listen" function to see where police are currently making stops.
"Stop and Frisk Watch" so far has only been released for Google Inc's Android mobile operating system, though the NYCLU said that a version for Apple Inc's iOS system will be made available later this summer. It is available in English and Spanish.
(Reporting By Joseph O'Leary; Editing by Vicki Allen)