Jul 28, 2022 • FindLaw Staff; FINDLAW/BLOGS/LAW AND DAILY LIFE
TurnSignl Aims to Keep Everyone Safe During Police Interactions
An interaction with a police officer can quickly become tense. Even if you haven’t done anything wrong, getting pulled over can feel uncomfortable or even unsafe.
The statistics show why. According to data compiled by The Washington Post, about 1,000 people are fatally shot by police every year. Black Americans are killed by police at about twice the rate of white Americans.
But it’s not just American citizens in danger. Police are also being killed at an increased rate, according to FBI data.
The data is clear. We know there’s a problem. An ordinary traffic stop doesn’t need to be so dangerous.
TurnSignl is offering a potential way to help. A first-of-its-kind app, TurnSignl connects you with an attorney on-demand. By pressing a button on your phone, you can get connected to a licensed attorney who can advise you on your rights, speak to a police officer on your behalf, and provide an objective and calm assessment of the situation.
All attorneys at TurnSignl go through de-escalation training to be able to handle stressful situations. They are also local and experienced, ensuring that you are speaking to someone who knows local laws. According to CEO and General Counsel Jazz Hampton, “TurnSignl ensures that each call is answered by an attorney that practices that exact type of law, in that exact jurisdiction. There is no better legal guidance than that given by someone who is experienced in all the correct ways, because laws are different everywhere.”
De-escalation and Accountability
The app records through your phone’s front-facing camera and saves the video to the cloud, while an attorney comes on the screen to speak directly to you and the police officer.
This is a great way to ensure that the situation doesn’t escalate unnecessarily. And if something does happen, you have a recording of events that’s stored securely and safely in the cloud. The attorney you speak to can also help you manage the situation, for example by helping you avoid doing anything that could be interpreted as resisting arrest.
Protecting Your Rights
TurnSignl is also a good way of ensuring that you protect your rights (and know what they are) during the specific circumstances of your interaction with police. What should you say to the police officer? Does the police officer have probable cause to search your vehicle? Now you can ask these questions in real time.
And while the video is saved to the cloud, no one can see it without your permission: not the police, not workers at TurnSignl, not even the attorney you are speaking to. But if your rights are violated, despite police knowing you are recording in the presence of a licensed attorney, you have evidence of what really happened.
Made to Get Everyone Home Safely
Hampton, Andre Creighton, and Mychal Felix are the creators of TurnSignl. Two of the founders grew up with Philando Castile, who died during a routine traffic stop despite being unarmed. After the murder of George Floyd, they decided that the app was needed immediately.
The company aims to keep both drivers and law enforcement safe. According to Hampton, “TurnSignl is an app to bridge the gap, so we had to have law enforcement input. We talked to over 20 police officers – from chiefs of police to boots-on-the-ground officers – to learn more about how we can ensure that when they see a TurnSignl bumper sticker, they will feel safer during that stop than any other they have that day.”
The app is now available in several states, including Minnesota, Georgia, Florida, and California, and hopes to go nationwide within the next few years. So far it has been a success. As Hampton notes, “TurnSignl receives calls every day. From the Black woman in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, that just wanted someone to be there with her during an afternoon stop on her way to pick up her children, to the man who is triggered by law enforcement that was pulled over at 1:37 am and had an attorney on the phone before an officer is at his window. Every day we see examples of people feeling safer and asserting their rights in a polite and de-escalated manner.”