For starters it is important for all citizens to understand that you have the legal right to record the police, under the express law of 38 states as long as you're not interfering with their work (police have unfortunately used this broadly, arresting people who are standing far away, sometimes on the opposite side of the street. The remaining 12 states require two-party consent to record conversations, but that doesn't apply to on-duty police or anyone in public where there is no expectation of privacy. Massachusetts and Illinois also recently had their bans on police recording overturned as unconstitutional, effectively making police recording legal in all 50 states.

In the wake of the protests at Ferguson that sparked an aggressive and militarized police response and the shooting of yet another person in nearby St. Louis, the importance of recording the police cannot be understated, especially with the arrest of two reporters that tried to film the Ferguson police. It is vital for citizens in any democratic country to be able to securely record police in the course of their public duties without fear of harassment, arrest and abuse. Unfortunately there ae countless stories and reports of people filming police being harassed, arrested, beaten or worse. Here are 4 apps for Android and iOS that can help you record the police without fear of your phone being illegally confiscated and the video deleted.

ACLU-NJ Police Tape

This is an official app from the ACLU of New Jersey. The app is simple and allows you to use the Police Tape feature to record video and audio interaction with the police and then it backs up the video so that it can't be deleted if your phone is taken. There is also a "Know Your Rights" section with information on how to react to police in different situations. You can download it Google Play Store and the iTunes Store.

Citizens can hold police accountable in the palms of their hands with "Police Tape," a smartphone application from the ACLU of New Jersey that allows people to securely and discreetly record and store interactions with police, as well as provide legal information about citizens' rights when interacting with the police.

Stop and Frisk Watch

Stop and Frisk Watch is an app similar to the above, except it's from the NYCLU and for stop-and-frisk encounters. The app is intended for bystanders, not the people being stopped and frisked. Seriously, if you're about to be stopped and frisked, don't try to pull your phone out of your pocket, that's a terrible idea. You can download it on the Google Play Store and the iTunes Store.

best, police, recording, apps, securely, record, encounters Credit: iTunes

The app allows bystanders to fully document stop-and-frisk encounters and alert community members when a street stop is in progress. It has three primary functions:

  • Record: This allows the user to film an incident with audio by simply pushing a trigger on the phone's frame. Shaking the phone stops the filming. When filming stops, the user immediately receives a brief survey allowing them to provide details about the incident. The video and survey will go to the NYCLU, which will use the information to shed light on the NYPD's stop-and-frisk practices and hold the Department accountable for its actions.
  • Listen: This function alerts the user when people in their vicinity are being stopped by the police. When other app users in the area trigger Stop and Frisk Watch, the user receives a message reporting where the police stop is happening. This feature is especially useful for community groups who monitor police activity.
  • Report: This prompts the survey, allowing users to report a police interaction they saw or experienced, even if they didn't film it.

The app includes a "Know Your Rights" section that instructs people about their rights when confronted by police and their right to film police activity in public.

Stop and Frisk Watch is intended for use by people witnessing a police encounter, not by individuals who are the subject of a police stop.

I'm Getting Arrested

The I'm Getting Arrested app is a fairly simple concept, "I'm Getting Arrested enables anyone, with one click, to broadcast a custom message to SMS numbers in the event they are arrested." That's useful if the police ever arrest or detain you because it will let your family or friends know what happened and where you are so they can get you legal assistance or other support. This app is only on the Google Play Store.

FiVo Film (iOS Only)

FiVo Films is similar to the ACLU-NJ and NYCLU apps. It allows you to securely record police encounters and have the video automatically upload to your Dropbox account. This prevents the police from being able to illegally confiscate the phone and delete the video. FiVo Film is only available on the iTunes store.

best, police, recording, apps, securely, record, encounters Credit: iTunes

Use FiVo Film to instantly and securely record police misconduct any time you witness it. As you record, your video instantly saves to your phone and uploads to your free Dropbox account.

If police see you filming their misconduct, they may attempt to confiscate your phone to erase the video. Some officers may even destroy your phone. Instead of fighting back and being arrested for simply trying to protect your video, you can sit back and rest easy, knowing that a copy of your video was already instantly uploaded to your free Dropbox account as you recorded it. That's the magic of Fi-Vo Film. To retrieve your Fi-Vo Film video, simply log into your free Dropbox account. Use Dropbox's "share" feature to email this video to your lawyer or other interested parties