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COMMENTARY: ACLU promotes Mobile Justice CA app for the public’s safety

Mobile Justice CA app empowers the public to record police conduct and hold elected officials accountable

An ACLU Mobile Justice app allows you to legally video record police activities, especially traffic stops and encounters with the public, and sends that record to the ACLU automatically for evaluation.

For well over 100 years, the American Civil Liberties Union, or the ACLU, has devoted its efforts to protecting the constitutional rights of citizens and residents. Established as a result of the blanket violation of constitutional rights of so-called “radicals” in post World War I America, it worked to avert arrests and deportations on the mere assertion of being communists.

In the form of a Mobile Justice application, or app, the tool is easy to download to your iPhone or Android phone and permits you to legally record, witness and submit a report of suspicious, unlawful and potentially lethal police encounter with the public. The recorded video is automatically sent to your local ACLU affiliate, even if the police illegally confiscate your phone. The ACLU Mobile Justice app currently functions in 18 states, including Washington, DC and California. The app also informs you of your legal rights, how to assert and preserve them when stopped and questioned by police; and how to file a formal complaint, if you believe you have been victimized by law enforcement, (your tax paid public servant), or your rights have been violated. As important, the service is free and also provided in Spanish.

This convenient app is particularly useful here in Hollister, following the recent release of the Hollister Police Crime Report for 2015. According to the department’s annual statistical interpretation, for the third straight year, violent crime is down. However, and most disturbing, are the department’s figures for traffic stops and infractions. Those, on the other hand, have increased by a factor of almost three or 260 percent since 2010. Moving violations according to the department rose from 857 stops in 2010 to an unbelievable 2,223 in just five years. Even when factoring in for a population growth (approximately 1,000 residents per the report) to 37,000 since 2010, the number of police stops is shocking, while raising questions of fairness and legitimacy.

These traffic stops and the subsequent citations issued, serve as a "source of revenue" and largesse for the city, county, the courts and police. This highly suspicious increase in Hollister police traffic stops policy, raises further concerns of a Ferguson City Council effect and “pattern and practice," that was highly criticized by the US Department of Justice investigation into Ferguson and determined to be inequitable and indefensible.  Needless to say, when unwarranted and “fishing expedition” type traffic stops occur, especially under the current atmosphere of police mistrust, such encounters increase the probability fatal outcomes.

Hopefully, this tool will in time open the eyes, minds, and hearts, of those who still call the actions of unrestrained police officers and departments (Ferguson, Chicago, San Francisco, Alameda, Co, Baltimore, Cleveland, North Charlotte, Salinas, etc., etc., etc.) for what they are. Even after all the graphic and disturbing videos, the undeniable evidence of the state of affairs of our law enforcement is overwhelming.

As if local police and departments highly questionable actions were not enough, the US Department of Justice Inspector General Investigation on DEA Cash Seizure issued a report on wrongdoing and illegal activities - undoubtedly another “anomaly”, this time of a national law enforcement agency. Seemingly we have nothing to worry about!

Effectuating meaningful and heartfelt change in our law enforcement’s thinking, attitude and confused sense of community respect is not only necessary but also imperative. Otherwise, our nation, and local communities’ trust in police, without a doubt, will suffer continued irreparably harm - something very difficult, if not impossible to redeem under the existing climate. It is a most important tool in effective community policing that must be demonstrated - on a daily basis.

Historically, our impartial application of criminal justice, or more specifically the racial injustice under the law, continues to be an elusive exercise when it comes to indiscriminate law enforcement power and its interaction with particular communities.

Remember: you are under no legal obligation to talk or answer questions from police. Only present your license, registration and insurance proof when asked courteously. Everything you say and do will be held against you!

 

Great recording for better law enforcement! Share it!

About:
Luis Burguillo (An Engaged and ...)

As a student of the media and journalism, I am interested in utilizing the medium in order to assure that the residents of the City of Hollister and San Benito County are alerted, informed and educated on the official actions of their elected officials who are sworn to preserve, protect and defend the US constitution and Bill of Rights. More importantly, their engagement in the political process will hold the leaders accountable for their actions/decisions and lead to an improved governance.

Comments

I was driving on the bypass a few weeks ago and two cars obviously racing went by me at about 80 around the busy noon hour, then they wildly cut across two lanes and shot up Hillcrest.  They roared by so fast that I could not identify the plates, the make, or the model of the cars, I did, however get the IMPRESSION that one was blue and the other was a dark silver.  Not enough to even make a report.

They were just a major tragedy waiting to happen, so I wish the police would have got them and issued 2,224 citations instead of only 2,223 and ripped up their licenses right in front of them (not allowed).  No, I do not always observe the speed limit (guilty on occasion), but there is a fundamental difference between going 50 in a 45 zone on a dry road and going 80 on the bypass which is just reckless.

No doubt sometime, somewhere, a member of the HPD will make a serious mistake or even intentionally violate someone's rights - after all we still have humans in these positions and they have all human frailties.  RoboCop will solve that, eventually.  Maybe we also need RoboCitizens who stop acting like idiots.

However, to imply, without evidence, that the HPD equates to the Ferguson Police and “pattern and practice" is simply outrageous. Luis, if any evidence existed I'm sure you'd have presented it by now. What you are doing is accusation by innuendo, if a policeman did the same about the local minority population you'd be screaming bloody, blue, murder.

I do believe that the HPD has put community relations first on their priority list and that the vast majority of the community, including the minority members, trust them and that is why they send hundreds of their children to their sports programs and use WE-TIP.

You have a tough sell, Hollister and San Benito County are not Los Angeles or even San Jose, our residents know their local law enforcement folks and vice versa and for the most part they are satisfied with their professionalism, fairness, and integrity.

I do not own a set of blinders, if you ever have a real case please feel free to send me the details, meanwhile stop trying to use guilt by association, it's unworthy of a good cause (equal justice).

p.s., as I'm sure you know being a good city guy like me, it is the poor minority population that sufferers most from the ravages of crime and especially gang activity.

Marty Richman

 

 

 

 

Submitted by (William McCarey) on

Mr Burgullio's article is not in synch with the local population. Most people in Hollister are friends and neighbors with the local police. We support and encourage enforcement of laws in this city. I am not sure how anyone can relate traffic enforcement to Ferguson. Like Marty, I have seen lots of stupid driving in this town. I am in favor of getting these people off the road. The police department is doing the correct thing.

Submitted by John Noble on

I suppose one could do all that or just pick up the phone and give our Chief a call.  His door is always open.

Luis, from your question on my budget documents"

Luis, I'm always happy to oblige...

Criminal fines, vehicle fines, delinquencies (late charges) and parking violation fines all go into the city General Fund.  I do not know if the criminal fines or what part of the criminal fines are generated  by the Superior Court. I also do not know if these are NET what the collection agency gets or if we still owe them.

In 2012-2013 Criminal fines were $9,446, vehicle fines $59,415, delinquencies $5,312 and parking violations $63,891 for a total of $138,063.

In 2013-2014 Criminal fines were $395, vehicle fines $73,092, delinquencies $8,969 and parking violations $54,627 for a total of $137,083.

In 2014-2015 I do not have the official year end, bur it looks like Criminal fines of $8,538, vehicle fines $77,793, delinquencies $5,780, and parking violation of 44,308 for a total of $136,420.

The expected budget forecast for 2015-2016 is Criminal fines of $12,000, vehicle fines $65,000, delinquencies $7,500, and parking violation of $60,000 for a total of $144,500.

I can't swear to it, but I do not know of any red-light camera installations anywhere in Hollister or San Benito County.  I believe the law requires a warning sign and I do not remember ever seeing a warning sign here.

As you know (and just for everyone else) here are the traffic offenses by year

Traffic Offenses 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
 Moving Violations 857, 1155, 490, 921, 1197, 2223
 DUI's 176, 145, 118, 156, 302, 189
 Accidents 196, 241, 179, 210, 204, 216

Since vehicle fines brought in $73,092 in 2013-2014, but are only budgeted to bring in $65,000 in 2015-2016 I suspicion that the moving citation count may be a typo with the actual number 1,223, not 2,223, else the cost per vehicle fine would be about half that of the previous year.  I guess it's possible, but it's unlikely unless it's all about the drop in DUIs (302 to 189).

Marty Richman

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