Moving America Forward

The New Way for Citizens to Report the Actions of Law Enforcement

August 20, 2014
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The New Way for Citizens to Report the Actions of Law Enforcement
Screen view of the new Five-O Citizen Reporting app for smartphones. Screengrab via YouTube
After watching reports of police violence on the news, these Georgia teens invented the Five-O app.

In today’s world, it seems almost impossible to separate teenagers from their phones. But while most spend hours and hours checking out social media sites or playing games, some are using the power of technology to inspire change.

Enter Five-O, the new app that allows users to document police abuse in order to create a community base for problem-solving. It’s inspired by the new wave of police violence reported in the news — particularly the continued unrest in Ferguson, Mo.

While an app like this is certainly a new phenomenon, the inventors behind it are even more unlikely: three teenagers from Georgia. Fourteen-year-old Caleb Christian, and his two sisters Ima, 16, and Asha, 15, have always had an interest in coding. After attending MIT’s k12 Scratch and App Inventor program, the three siblings continued to delve into the coding world, learning JavaScript, HTML, CSS and Java — making the programming of the app a breeze.

The process is just as simple for users. Once you’ve download the app, all you do is submit a detailed report on any case of alleged police abuse and rate the officer.

Then the community steps in. The app has county community boards where users can discuss and attempt to solve the problem. Those potential solutions can then be brought to community activists, the media or other forms of law enforcement.

For the Christian siblings, that is the whole point of the app — to find a solution to inspire change.

“We’ve been hearing about the negative instances in the news, for instance most recently the Michael Brown case, and we always talk about these issues with our parents,” Ima told Business Insider. “They always try to reinforce that we should focus on solutions. It’s important to talk about the issues, but they try to make us focus on finding solutions. That made us think why don’t we create an app to help us solve this problem.”

It’s important to note, however, is that this isn’t an app designed purely to rate negative run-ins with the cops; it’s also meant as a place to document the police officers doing positive work. The app welcomes encouraging stories about police actions to act as motivation for the other officers or serve as examples.

The app became available for download two days ago for both Apple and Android devices.

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