Cop Check Enables the University Community to Report Police Misconduct

ASU Police Department hopes to encourage transparency and accountability with new feature introduced this school year

The ASU Police Department has introduced a new “Cop Check” feature in the LiveSafe app that allows students and others on all ASU campuses to report incidents of police misconduct.

Originally used as a means to improve the safety of students, staff and visitors on ASU campuses, the community has been using LiveSafe since 2014. The new Cop Check feature was added to the app by ASU PD at the start of this school year.

To report an incident, users go to the LiveSafe application, click the plus sign at the bottom of the screen, then the icon that says “Cop Check”. The app gives users the option to attach audio, video or photo evidence and a text box to describe what happened.

The University Police Department is one of the few in the country to use a program like Cop Check, according to ASU Police spokesman Adam Wolfe.

According to an August 2020 press release from LiveSafe, the Virginia Commonwealth University Police Department reported its lowest number of police misconduct on record in 10 years after using Cop Check.

According to Wolfe, the department was seeking to be “proactive” in creating a system that would speed up the sometimes lengthy process of investigating police misconduct. Sometimes the police department may receive a case within days of the incident and not begin the investigation until then, Wolfe said.

Thanks to the quick and immediate nature of Cop Check, the public can let the police know what they see and the issue can be resolved quickly after any altercation, Wolfe said.

“It’s something that was really obvious to do to get people involved,” Wolfe said.

Alexis Faulkner, a graduate student studying social justice and human rights, believes that with growing criticism of the police, there is significant pressure to hold those in power to account . However, she remains skeptical of the intentions of the police.

“I have the impression that they are having a hard time being transparent because even recently, everything that happened like last year, people are applying a lot of pressure on the police,” Faulkner said. “And I think (the conflict) is just something that makes them worry.”

Police misconduct reports will be forwarded directly to the ASU PD communications team. If the incident is still ongoing, dispatchers will dispatch officers to the scene, removing the officer in question from the situation and an on-site investigation will begin if it is determined that misconduct has occurred.

According to Wolfe, ASU PD, like most police departments, has an internal affairs unit that investigates misconduct among its officers.

However, if the case is more serious, the Internal Affairs Unit may consider bringing in other police services in partnership with the University.

“We also have the option of going with an outside agency, and we would probably go to one of our partner agencies like Mesa, Tempe and if that got big enough you would go to state agencies, then federal agencies if necessary, ”Wolfe said.

There are many different internal policies that police officers must follow, whether they are specific to a department or federal policies. According to Wolfe, ASU PD meets standards set by the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies. Violations of these policies could be considered a fault.

Depending on the level of transgression committed by the officer, a report can result in anything from suspension to termination.

According to Wolfe, the ASU PD wants to be able to put an end to the reporting party, whether it’s repercussions for the officer or an explanation of why the incident is not considered to be. professional misconduct. Wolfe hopes the department can achieve this by involving the community in the investigation process with Cop Check.

Since its launch last month, ASU PD has not received any reports of police misconduct through the Cop Check feature, Wolfe said.

Ivan Del Rio, an officer in the Restorative Justice Lawyers Club at ASU and a senior justice studies student, believes Cop Check will help hold ASU police accountable for their actions.

“I think the Cop Check feature of the LiveSafe app is an innovative way to distribute power within the community,” said Del Rio.

Public education is also a concern for victims of police misconduct. According to a study conducted by the University of Palo Alto, only about 3% of Americans understand their legal rights, such as their Miranda rights.

Faulkner said police reform activists like her, who are working on a graduate project on prison reform, find that a lack of rights education can lead to misunderstandings between the police and the public and , in the worst case, lead to violence between the two parties. She said Cop Check could provide a solution to the misunderstandings, as those involved actively practice them when using the reporting program.

“Is it something to save the police? Or is it something to save the victims? Are (the victims) going to be listened to?” Faulkner said. “You just have to make sure the right, genuine people are using the process.”

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About Elaine Morales

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