Youngsters Create an App to Document Police Abuse

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Aug. 18 2014 11:48 AM

Youngsters Create an App to Document Police Abuse

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This story originally appeared in Business Insider.

The unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, is posing some new questions about law enforcement and the militarization of the police. Three teenagers from Georgia have decided to take the issue into their own hands.

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Caleb Christian, 14, and his two sisters—Ima, 16, and Asha, 15—are about to roll out an app called “Five-O,” which will let users document police abuse and join together as a community to problem-solve.

“We’ve been hearing about the negative instances in the news, for instance most recently the Michael Brown case, and we always talk about these issues with our parents,” Ima Christian told Business Insider. “They always try to reinforce that we should focus on solutions. It's important to talk about the issues, but they try to make us focus on finding solutions. That made us think why don't we create an app to help us solve this problem.”

Five-O lets users submit the details of any incident of police abuse and rate the specific officer. The app also has community boards for different counties so that users can communicate and plan responses to any difficulties with local police.

The idea is to collect data that users can then bring to community activists, the media, and other forms of law enforcement. That way, it's not just “he said, she said,” Caleb said. And they're hoping to illuminate both the negative and the positive interactions users have with police officers. They want the good examples to serve as motivation for officers to do better.

But don't be fooled by these teenagers’ young age. They are determined to make a difference. “You’re never too young to learn, and you're never too young to make a difference,” Caleb said.

The Christian siblings all have a strong background in coding, which made it possible for them to create Five-O along with two other apps (Coily and Froshly), all under their app development company called Pinetart Inc. Caleb, Ima, and Asha all participated in MIT's k12 Scratch and App Inventor program, and with their parents' encouragement (both have backgrounds in technology), continued to learn JavaScript, HTML, CSS, and Java.

Five-O will be available on Monday for both iOS and Android devices.

Here's the video preview for Five-O:

Rebecca Borison writes about technology for Inc.

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