A new smartphone app may do for law enforcement interactions what telemedicine has done for doctors.
The app, SafeStop, allows members of the public to video chat with Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies before the in-person traffic stop, which the app developers said will “de-escalate traffic stops and transform police-motorist interactions.”
Traffic stops in particular have become a point of contention in the ongoing cultural discussion around the role of police in American society.
Multiple deadly encounters between police and civilians began as simple traffic stops, including the high-profile killing of Philando Castile by Minnesota police.
With traffic stops carrying potential life-and-death stakes, a pilot program using SafeStop intends to lower the temperature, allowing drivers and officers to communicate virtually before meeting face-to-face.
“When pulled over, users are provided with information and instructions on how to facilitate dialogue during their traffic stop and then can immediately make video contact with police officers while they are being stopped,” the company said in a news release. “By introducing video contact at this crucial point, police officers have the option to add another layer of identification before arriving to the vehicle. This new approach offers motorists the ability to take the lead on alerting police to their presence and creating transparency in the process.”
In the release, Capt. William Moulder of the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station praised the app.
“This new program is an innovative new tool for our Deputies to use in appropriate situations during traffic stops,” he said.
While the LASD is already in support, members of the public may find the app intriguing due to its promise for new users.
“For a limited time, we will pay a percentage of your ticket when you use our app,” SafeStop wrote on its website.