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New ‘Tallahassee Bystander’ smartphone app allows citizens to use voice activation to record and livestream interactions with police

Published: Aug. 24, 2021 at 6:22 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - A new smartphone application, designed to improve relationships and trust between police and the Tallahassee community, is now available.

The Tallahassee Police Department says the free application is the first of its kind to be created by a police department with the voice activation feature.

Citizens can utilize the app record and livestream their interactions with police by using voice activation.

By simply saying “Bystander, record,” with camera and microphone use enabled, the app will begin recording and livestreaming. Users can select three emergency contacts who automatically receive the video; it will also be saved on the smartphone itself, and livestreamed to a TPD server. The video could be used as evidence, but users have the option to remain anonymous.

The application will also allow users to alert TPD of an active situation, and TPD can reach out to anonymous users to request they contact the department about a certain video.

The idea for the application goes back more than a year to a summer 2020 meeting between Black Lives Matter protesters and law enforcement leaders, facilitated by the Tallahassee NAACP. Leaders present included State Attorney Jack Campbell, Leon County Sheriff Walt McNeil, and TPD Chief Lawrence Revell. The group discussed trust and transparency, with the activists requesting an application with voice activation.

TPD and the City of Tallahassee worked with Quadrant 2 and the “More Than a Name” community non-profit group to create the app.

“We are here for our community. We want to listen and continue to collaborate on ways to strengthen our relationships with the community, and the launch of this app really highlights that,” Chief Lawrence Revell said.

“It provides everybody another level of comfort, another level of interaction with the police department, and, quite frankly, it helps our citizens and it helps the police department,” Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey said.

Dailey says the app is one of many steps the City has taken toward increased trust and transparency.

“Throughout the course of the past year there are several great examples of us taking those steps forward.. The creation of the Citizens Advisory Committee, the Tallahassee Police Review Board, the full audit of our use of force policy, the creation of our mental health response team, and now, today, the launch of the Tallahassee Bystander app,” Dailey said.

During Tuesday’s press conference, Chief Revell emphasized the importance of the voice activation feature.

“We wanted to make sure this was hands free, voice activated, so that again, people could keep their hands where the officers could see them and not be digging around looking for something in the car, so it’s safer for the officer, and it’s certainly safer for the citizen as well,” Revell said.

The TPD Citizens Advisory Council Chair, Pastor Rudy Ferguson, asked residents to utilize the new technology.

“I want to encourage as a citizen, our community, my community, the Griffin Heights community, to download this app. To make it a part of your citizen responsibility, to make sure that you play a role,” said Ferguson.

You can download the app here.

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