Emails show LAPD cut ties with Citizen app after launching vigilante manhunt targeting innocent person

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from well-thanks-thanks-for-that department

It didn’t take long for Citizen – the app that once wanted to be a cop – to wear down its welcome from law enforcement. The breach-reporting app has made several missteps since its inception, starting with its original “Vigilante” brand.

After being kicked out of app stores for (unsurprisingly) encouraging vigilantism, the company was rebranded as “Citizen”, connecting uh…citizens with live feeds of crime reports from city residents as well as police scanner output transcripts. He also paid citizens to show up uninvited at crime scenes to report on developments.

But he never forgot his origins as a vigilante. When wildfires swept through Southern California last year, Citizen executives decided it was time to put “crime” back into the “crime-reporting app.” The issue went all the way to the top, with Citizen CEO Andrew Frame launching into Slack chats and live streams, imploring employees and app users to “FIND THIS FUCK”.

The problem was that Citizen had identified the wrong “FUCK”. The person the app says was responsible for the wildfire was not actually the culprit. Law enforcement then tracked down a better suspect, one who had actually generated evidence implicating them.

After calling an innocent person a “FUCK” and a “devil” to be found, Citizen was forced to reverse its vigilantism and rehabilitate its image. Unfortunately for Citizen, this act managed to sever ties with local law enforcement with as much skill as the wildfire he used to start a wildly ill-conceived manhunt.

As Joseph Cox reports for Motherboard, this act broke the camel’s back that served as a bridge between Citizen and one of the nation’s largest law enforcement agencies, the Los Angeles Police Department. Internal communications obtained by Vice show that the LAPD decided to cut ties with the app after the company decided its internal Slack channel was capable of taking the law into its own hands.

On May 21, several days after the misguided manhunt, Sergeant II Hector Guzman, a member of the LAPD Public Communications Group, emailed his colleagues with a link to some of the coverage of the incident. .

“I know the meeting with West LA regarding Citizen has been postponed (TBD), but here’s a recent article you may want to check out ahead of the meeting, which again highlights some of the serious concerns regarding Citizen and the actions users they promote and tolerate,” Guzman wrote. Motherboard obtained the LAPD emails via a public record request.

Lt. Raul Jovel of the LAPD Media Relations Division replied “given what is happening with this app, we will not be working with them from our store.”

Guzman then replied “Copy. I’m more.”

Whatever lucrative possibilities Citizen might have envisioned after making early inroads toward law enforcement acceptance were apparently burned by this misunderstanding that nearly led to a calamitous misunderstanding. Rather than entertain Citizen’s mastubatory fantasies of being the thin line of enforcement between good and evil, the LAPD has (wisely) chosen to toss the upstart to the curb.

The stiff arm continues to this day. The LAPD cut ties and continued to slide left on Citizen’s extremely inline advances. The same sergeant. Guzman mentioned in previous emails assured that the LAPD operates independently of Citizen. When Citizen asked the LAPD if it would be okay to listen to radio conversations to push notifications to users about possible criminal activity, Guzman made it clear that it would probably be a bad idea.

“It happened before. Still declined for multiple reasons,” Guzman wrote in another email.

And now Citizen is going it alone in Los Angeles. In response to reports from Motherboard, Citizen offered a salad of words about good intentions and adapting to “real-world operational experiences.” I guess that’s good, in a way. From the statement, it appears Citizen is willing to learn from its mistakes. The problem is that its mistakes have been horrendous rather than just annoying, and it seems to be a bit slow in adoption, which only compounds the problems that can be caused by over-excited executives thinking that a few minutes of copying the Police scanner should result in citizen arrests. .

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Filed Under: citizen, lapd, vigilantes
Companies: citizen

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