For some, a traffic stop with law enforcement can be a nerve-racking experience. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is trying a new tactic to help diffuse the tension in these situations — for both the deputy and driver.
The new app, Safe Stop, allows a driver and deputy to talk face-to-face on a video chat similar to FaceTime. Right now, the pilot program is only available within the jurisdiction of the West Hollywood Sheriff's Station. It allows the driver to make a video call with a deputy during a traffic stop.
"This is exciting. We definitely need something like this, with the crimes going on, the officers getting killed, all these things," said Richard Jones, an apartment manager in West Hollywood. "And it works both ways. The officers are probably scared to get out of their car, too."
The app works on a two-way connection. After getting stopped, the driver would initiate a call with the deputy and they could talk about the reason for the stop.
"The idea is, let's go to where the conflict takes place, which is in a traffic stop and see if we could make that interaction easier," said Safe Stop co-founder Tyler Hochman.
According to Hochman, no private information is shared. Only the make and model of the vehicle is passed over to the deputy, to ensure that it's the same car.
Captain Bill Moulder, the head of the West Hollywood Station, said the deputy is not required to answer a driver's call if they feel it's unsafe.
"Anytime that we can we will engage the technology to test it out and see how it works," said Moulder.
The pilot program will last six months to a year. West Hollywood is also installing more crime-fighting technology on its streets including more automated license plate readers and security cameras as well as will be using drones to respond to certain police calls.
During the pilot program, Safe Stop has pledged to pay a percentage of a person's ticket if they are using the app during the traffic stop.
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