LOS ANGELES (KCBS) – A smartphone app has been launched in California that allows users to record encounters with police that will be automatically submitted to their local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

The Mobile Justice app is available for both Android and Apple devices, said Peter Bibring, a senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Southern California and director of police practices for the ACLU of California.

“If you open the app, there’s a record button. Once that’s activated, it records video,” said Bibring. “Once the user hits stop, that video is automatically uploaded to the ACLU.”

“If the video is deleted, lost or destroyed, and we’ve had a couple of instances, [including] one high-profile incident in Southern California of law enforcement destroying the camera of the phone of someone who was recording a police action. The video will be preserved. It also allows the ACLU to review the video and to release that. We’ve seen in other instances, including the Walter Scott incident. The man who took that video was initially so fearful of reprisal by police that he nearly deleted the video.

Bibring said the app allows the ACLU to release the video so that the individual doesn’t take the heat.

Without the app, Bibring said the ACLU is rarely sent video of encounters with police.

The app has also been released in Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey and Oregon.

Bibring said he hopes the launch of the app will help inform people about their First Amendment right to videotape and record police.

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