Teens Invent New App to Track Community Interactions With Police

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We have apps for everything, especially for ranking things. If I want to know what a particular restaurant is like, I can use Yelp. If I need to hire a contractor (someday), I can use Angie’s List. Websites that help people share advice and feedback about doctors even exists in Healthgrades. When I was in college, I would look at my professors on At any given point, I can see rankings on pretty much anything I want, so it make sense that we’d be able to rank our civil servants as well. That was exactly the thought behind Five-O, a new app to rank cops created by teens.

Five-O was created by Ima, Asha, and Caleb Christian, three siblings who live outside of Atlanta. They wanted to provide a Yelp-like service for people who interact with members of the police force. This is how it works:

After interacting with a cop, users open the app and fill out a Yelp-like form on which they can grade the officer’s courtesy from A to F, check a box if they were verbally or physically abused, and add details about the incident. They can view ratings on other cops and police departments across the country, participate in community forums, and check out a Q&A titled “Know Your Rights.”

The Christians got the idea in light of incidences like Michael Brown’s death. They wanted to prevent tragedies like that from happening again by providing more information to the public.

The premise does seem a bit weird, I know. Services like Yelp, Angie’s List, or Healthgrades all provide rankings for industries that do allow consumer choice. If you don’t want to go back to a restaurant or doctor, you can choose to vote with your feet and walk away. The same isn’t true with cops — you don’t get to choose which officer pulls you over.

The app is important, however, for a different reason: accountability. In light of the horrifying events occurring in Ferguson, Missouri over the last few weeks, there are a lot of conversations floating around about accountability for cops. Some have suggested requiring cops to wear cameras would be make them more accountable for brutality and militarization.

Five-O would do something similar — it would allow the community to create and share information about their interactions with the police force. In towns where the police force has begun wearing cameras, interactions that led to complaints have gone down. In Rialto, California, cops have been wearing body cameras since 2012. After just one year wearing the cameras, complaints have gone down by almost 90 percent, and use-of-force incidents fell by 58 percent; however, those cameras can be very pricey. While the cheapest version of the software is about $40 per month per user, the app is a less invasive, and cheaper, way to provide some form of accountability.

Of course, the Five-O is significantly more subjective than a camera would be. If users are reporting their interactions, it’s possible that people will report inaccurately. But since incidents reported to the app don’t have any official status, hopefully no cops will be falsely accused.

The Christians say it’s not just about accountability, but it will also provide a way to thank and recognize police officers who do a good job. In general, it will provide a better way for communities to interact with each other about the police force. As the protests in Ferguson wage on and there’s a greater American conversation about cops and accountability, Five-O could prove to be an excellent idea to measure community interactions with police.

Anneliese Mahoney
Anneliese Mahoney is Managing Editor at Law Street and a Connecticut transplant to Washington D.C. She has a Bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from the George Washington University, and a passion for law, politics, and social issues. Contact Anneliese at



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