Even Police Say This "Subscription Law Enforcement Service" Is Going Too Far

Man holding cell phone to his ear
Zain Murdock
June 16, 2021

Leaked emails from the app “Citizen” recently revealed that a new product is in the works – one that will let an everyday person order a car with a private security force! In other words, it’s a “subscription law enforcement service,” or like an Uber for police. 

But it gets worse.

The app itself, previously named “Vigilante,” had a host of issues before experimenting with cars. The mapping app allows users to track and report “incidents of crime” or “suspicious events,” and gives users a constant influx of “real-time safety alerts.” 

You can imagine how this could go wrong – and who gets reported as “suspicious.”

The Intercept found that an array of user comments on the app used racist language and tropes. The app makes it extremely easy to create and respond to falsified reports. Even the NYPD said, “Crimes in progress should be handled by … [us] and not a vigilante with a cell phone.”

You would think that after killings like Ahmaud Arbery’s, still justified by a slavery-era Citizens Arrest law, backwards products like these would get canceled. But that’s clearly too optimistic.

This service might make itself sound good on paper, but Black people will be the ones who face the brunt of overcriminalization. We should be able to determine what's best for our own communities, not overzealous citizen "crime-fighters!"

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