Police Accountability App
The death of Freddie Gray, a resident of the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood in Baltimore, on April 12, 2015 while in police custody sparked a renewed cry for accountability of policing, police abuses, and the need for stronger citizen oversight of the public organization that is supposed to protect, not endanger, citizens. The entire country has watched through the lenses of cellphones and police cameras as citizens throughout the country are gunned down by the very people who are paid to protect them.
Shortly after Freddie Gray’s death, No Boundaries Coalition, in collaboration with BUILD and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, produced a report in which they interviewed the residents of Sandtown-Winchester regarding police abuse. The report, “Over-Policed, Yet Underserved: The People’s Findings Regarding Police Misconduct in West Baltimore,” details stories of police misconduct told by witnesses and victims from West Baltimore and makes recommendations for policy change to improve community-police relationships.
The report also sites the lack of formal complaints made to the Citizen Review Board due to fear of retaliation, and lack of confidence in the citizen oversight mechanism in the Civilian Review Board. Without formal complaints, the numbers and types of police misconduct cases goes uncounted – and the police department and city council can draw the conclusion that there are not many cases of police misconduct. The Center feels strongly that voices need to be heard in order to affect the needed changes in policing strategies and civilian oversight.
To that end and in collaboration with Baltimore Resilience, we will be launching a mobile app in which citizens can report police misconduct. A human rights attorney will be available to assist in filing a formal complaint with the Citizen Review Board, making sure that complaints are complete and without reason to be discarded for lacking information. We will continue to follow the complaint to its outcome. If a citizen has a complaint about police misconduct that does not fall into the categories that are heard by the CRB, or if the victim wishes to remain anonymous, the data will be used to press for reform in the Citizen Review Board.