By Gerald V. Paul
So, when you are stopped by a cop, go for the phone with the app: Cop Watch, Toronto.
Released last week in iTunes, costing 99 cents, it’s an attempt to reduce violence in the community and give citizens a little more control. It has been created by Darren Baptiste.
“Sadly, it’s a result of years of seeing violence in (the black) community,” he said. “Only the fatal ones get serious media attention, but there are dozens of incidents that happen that get no attention at all – but they are just as traumatic to the people involved.”
Baptiste, whose background is mostly in game and business apps, calls Cop Watch, Toronto “the most important” app he has ever created.
“We hope that this will reduce the violence, but also we hope it will help people feel that they have a little bit of control in their life,” Baptiste said. “It’s not just, ’Oh the police are doing bad things to me and I have to wait until somebody saves me.’ This way you can take an active step to make your world, your community, safer.”
The app’s icon features the ancient Egyptian “Eye of Huros,” which symbolizes protection and is meant to ward off evil.
It works by starting to record as soon as the app is opened, and as soon as the recording ends, it instantly uploads to YouTube. Simultaneously, an email is sent to the Network for Elimination of Police Violence, a community-based group, with the user’s location.
Baptiste, who is of Trinidadian heritage, is well-known for his work in the steelband and carnival arts communities.
A computer programmer by trade, he is also an author. His first book is called Goin’ Toco, a motorcycle adventure travelogue.