There are significantly more citizens than there are police. The limited size of many departments means there’s only so many resources to respond to emergencies. Although there have been other tamer tech attempts to simplify civil participation and support, they don’t do much to help with real-time emergencies. They have also taken less disruptive approaches, encouraging everyone to be a “concerned citizens” rather than a crime-stopping vigilante.
In New York City, there are 34,500 police officers who serve over 8 million people. Despite the high population, the closed nature of the 911 system means only 0.5% of the population knows about crimes when they’re reported. “Can injustice survive transparency?” That’s the question posed by Vigilante, an app designed to alert users when crimes occur near them.
In theory, this means users can gather information in real-time to help the police, and possibly step in to help save victims. In practice, however, it’s an application that potentially encourages mob justice, and in some cases, can even lead to more innocent, unequipped people being killed.
The team behind Vigilante monitors police scanners and other sources for real-time crime information—there is no direct integration with the official 911 system. From there, when an incident occurs, an alert is sent to Vigilante users with locations and details. They can choose to go to the scene and “help,” perhaps by broadcast video, posting updates that are shared across the user base, or maybe throwing a few karate chops.
In the beginning of their promo video, users are advised to keep a safe distance from any incidents that occur. However near the end, you can see a Vigilante user confront an attacker with nothing but their cell phone. Maybe it’s an exploding cell phone?
Vigilante recently completed a 1,000-user closed beta and launched publicly for New York City last week. The app no longer seems available on iTunes, but Andrew Frame, founder of Vigilante has said that he plans to release it in additional cities in 2017.
Per their manifesto,
“The lens of the camera is incapable of lying. When we are able to look at a situation from multiple angles, the truth emerges. Transparency is the single most powerful tool in the fight against crime and injustice, and we believe it will rebuild cooperation towards a shared vision. Cooperation, in turn, will lead to safer communities, better cities, and a stronger nation.”
Law enforcement professionals don’t necessarily agree with that stance. In an interview with the New York Post James Pasco, executive director of the National Fraternal Order of Police expressed concern over the app saying, “This poses a huge problem not only for police officers but also for citizens because there’s a tremendous potential for well-meaning citizens who are attempting to intervene in a crime to be mistaken for perpetrators by police officers.” He continued, “However well-meaning [this app] may be, it’s not a good idea from a public safety perspective. There are going to be rare instances where it is appropriate for a citizen to intervene, but there is no substitute for organized, well-trained law enforcement to do the job.”
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Joseph Osborne says
We can’t all be Daredevil, but I can see where this application is headed. Police are not going to be happy!
Gloria Patterson says
Daredevil would be awesome! I would love to clean up my neighborhood one bad guy at a time.
eb-5 productions says
Amazing blog! Do you have any helpful hints for aspiring writers?
I’m planning to start my own website soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
Would you suggest starting with a free platform like WordPress
or go for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m totally overwhelmed ..
Any recommendations? Many thanks!
Eladia Parker says
Paid option all the way. It helps your brand and says “professional” more than the free option.
Mari Lopez says
That app is AWESOME ,I would get that app Just one question is it free?
Wendy Kelley says
I can see how police officers might not like this and mostly due to the fact that it has to be easier to do your job as an officer without the public getting in the way. The app is a cool for the “noisy folks” that always want to know what is going on around them.
Joseph Acevedo says
In most cities, the police would rather the public not try and do the policing. For obvious reasons I am sure.
Margaret Elder says
I agree with Eric. What would stop a criminal from getting on the app and finding a “new” way to commit crime based on the information given? On the flip side, this is NOT going to stop crime, there is always a loophole until its exploited and the public is always going to want to know more, even at the cost of safety.
Shane Yates says
The app is going nowhere. There is no way it’s a safe to use app or one that the police are really going to be fans of.
Christopher Kennedy says
Well, even though the thought is what counts here, what is the backlash going to be like? Are the public going to feel like they are getting in the middle of something they shouldn’t? Locally, we get a scanner feed and there are many times people feel like they can “help”. But I am wondering if that might cause more confusion in the end?
Mari Lopez says
Hey man I know but those son of biches got to be stoped!
Interesting in concept, but I wonder how many New Yorkers are going to actually show up for this if they are out to dinner or watching the World Series. I also agree with James Pasco. This could confuse law enforcement as well as give criminals more targets to shoot at. Also, what happens if a criminal or a group of criminals decides to hop on the platform. At the end of the day thwarting crime is not like crowd sourced transportation. There are a lot more variables that could have dire consequences depending on the scenario.
Barbara Carter says
The confusion for police officers is a very real thing. Great comment!
Travis McCoy says
Totally. If you are going there to “help”, that can really be a hinderance if you stand back and think about it.