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New App Allows Users To Rate And Share Experiences With Police

By Stephen Gossett in News on Oct 13, 2016 6:08PM

Excuse Me Officer / Facebook

As relations between police and the communities they serve continue to be a hot-button topic in Chicago, a local developer will soon unveil an app that aims to amplify citizens’ voice when it comes to police dealings, while at the same time allowing easy-access, sortable data about officer interactions to all viewers.

The app, called Excuse Me Officer, essentially allows users to report and rate their experiences with police.

Co-founder Channing Harris told Chicagoist the project reflects his passion for “transparency and neutrality.”

“We might hear in the media how a three-time felon got shot, but we never hear about the officer,” Harris said. He cites Jason Van Dyke, the officer charged with the murder of Laquan McDonald, who had multiple complaints. According to his database—which he told us he created first as a Facebook page after his best friend was arrested, despite reporting her own assault—“there are officers in Englewood now who have 68 complaints and have never been punished.”

But the project is also about celebrating positive officer interactions, as well, he said. Harris and his co-founder (and former pro-basketball prospect) Mike Shaw both have family in law enforcement. And an upcoming website, set to debut on Friday, will list events at which community members can socialize with police and possibly feature a Cop of the Week award. “The blue code silence and the no-snitch rule go hand in hand,” he said. “We’re trying to weed out bad cops and promote good ones.”

Harris, who also spoke with DNAinfo about the project, said the project has received vocal support from activists, individual police officers, the NAACP, ACLU and the University of Chicago—which awarded Excuse Me Officer first place in an entrepreneurship contest this month. Harris has also received word that his team has been chosen as finalists for the Neighborhood Start Fund, a project created by rapper Lupe Fiasco and Google executive Di-Ann Eisnor to support South and West Side startups, with the contest set to take place on Nov. 12.

The app will not publicly post officer’s names. The app, which organizes ratings by district, will also feature a “roll-call button”,” which sends an alert to a loved one or lawyer when the user is pulled over; and it also allows users to post video and link them to a specific complaints.

Excuse Me Officer launches on Dec. 5.

[H/T DNA Info]