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City of Tallahassee looks to create app aimed at keeping police, community safe

Posted at 5:49 PM, Jun 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-18 23:22:11-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — The City of Tallahassee is taking steps to keep both the community and law enforcement safe.

Wednesday, the commission voted to move forward in developing an app for smartphones when interacting with the police.

This, after leaders of law enforcement in the city and county, along with state attorney Jack Campbell, met with activists from the NAACP.

Chief Information Officer for the city, Tim Davis, explained how it would work.

"They are looking for an application that would allow someone whose been pulled over by a police officer to have an audible command that would turn on their phones and make it into a recording device," said Davis.

The mobile application was a recommendation by activists who sat down with both City and County law enforcement last month in hopes of promoting transparency using technology.

"It's a great plan B and I think it's a great step," said April Hussein, who lives in Tallahassee.

A step to keep the people of Tallahassee and officers serving them safe.

Hussein says the city working to develop safety tech like this is needed in times of tension nationwide.

"The same ways that police officers have their body cams, it's an additional way for us to have that same type of technology," Hussein said.

The application in the works now by Tallahassee's Technology and Innovation Department is voice- activated.

Davis says a simple command would prompt their device to start recording.

"It would make it into a recording device and then have that information forwarded to a particular person on the staff, so that if an incident were to occur the police department would know and be able to send someone to observe what was going on," said Davis.

The budget to make this happen is set at $50,000.

Although the city can develop an app from scratch they are keeping options using market analysis to see if they can use an existing app that does the same thing.

Some like the idea, but say they would rather call someone they know to be a witness to the interaction.

"I feel like people would be more safe if they could call somebody they can trust," said Morris Canty, a Tallahassee resident. "That way, they can be notified and somebody would actually know what was up."

The city says while they are working to put this together the main goal is always safety.

"We want to make sure that, from the public safety perspective and also from an officer safety perspective that, the community feels as though what is happening is a safe environment that they can actually live and thrive in," Davis said.

Davis says building the app from scratch could take anywhere from four to eight months. Using an app already on the market would be a quicker process.