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App sends alert if you're stopped by the cops

Created by Warrensville Heights man
Posted at 6:10 PM, Sep 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-22 18:10:40-04

Strained relations between some police departments and African-Americans gave a Warrensville Heights man an idea he believes could keep people safe.

Quentin Robinson designed a smartphone app called “A-Where,” which alerts up to three people at once if the app user has been stopped in traffic by police.

Clicking a red button automatically sends the alert, which includes a current location. Tapping a green button ends the alert.

“It’s not anti-cop. It’s pro-citizen,” Robinson said. "This is basically our dispatch.”

Similar apps even allow users record police encounters with video and audio. Dr. Ronnie Dunn, a professor of urban studies at Cleveland State University, has studied relations between African-Americans and the police for years. He said his studies show more than half of all public encounters with police happen during a traffic stop and African-Americans are more likely to be stopped than other groups.

"All too often, the traffic stop is the most potentially volatile and uncertain encounter,” Dr. Dunn said.

Dr. Dunn said the app was a good idea, but he warned against fumbling with a phone while an officer is standing at the car.

“That could be interpreted as a furtive move by the officer,” Dr. Dunn said, “If he does not know what you’re reaching for.”

Robinson said that’s why the app only requires the push of one button, which he recommends doing before the officer approaches.

"We don’t need to give them another reason to reach for their holster,” Robinson said.

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