The initiative includes a bold new online effort, the NAACP Rapid Report System (RRS), a quick, effective way for citizens to report instances of police misconduct, and to help public safety officials move beyond the "tough on crime" policies that have lost their effectiveness. The Rapid Report System will be available starting July 6, through the NAACP website (www.naacp.org).
The user-friendly online RRS form will allow residents to send instant texts, emails, or video reports of police abuse to the association via cell phone.
The good news is that the technology behind this is only going to get better. Services like Qik already offer live streaming and instant archiving of cell phone videos. The service requires a fairly high-end phone and service plan, but as phones and plans get cheaper, Qik and similar sites are bound to get more popular. If they're smart, the makers of the terrific, inexpensive FlipVideo devices will partner with a cell service provider and come up with a cheap way to give their customers web access.
As we saw in Iran last month, the ability to instantly capture photos and video and store them off-site is an incredibly powerful tool. As more and more people acquire it, police officers will have to approach their jobs with the knowledge that everything they do while on duty can legally be captured and stored on a server they won't be able to access. Confiscating phones and cameras won't work anymore. The law enforcement community shouldn't fight this technology, they should embrace it. It's just as likely to protect the good cops from false reports of abuse as it is to expose the bad ones.
(Hat tip: Popehat)