A Black mother who became concerned about her sons' safety while driving has invented an app to quell the fears of many other Black parents who have similar worries about their children's on-the-road encounters with law enforcement.
According to Spectrum News, Charmaine Davis' app, Just Us, displays features that allow users to easily communicate in case of danger. The voice-activated app pinpoints a user's location, allowing the driver's designated contacts to find the user in an emergency. If a user selects the Heads Up feature, the app tells their contacts that the person is being pulled over. The driver can then use the livestream option to broadcast the police interaction.
Welcome to the Revolution! It's time to take matters into our own hands and ensure that justice is served. The JUST US mobile app has a manual check in feature and voice-activated alert to notify 5 designated contacts of danger via livestream during a traffic stop. #JUSTUS
— The JUST US App (@TheJustUsApp) October 8, 2020
There's also a Help feature, which alerts other users within a three-mile radius who are part of the Just Us community, letting them know that someone needs assistance. If users feel safe, they can choose the Check-In option.
"Just checking in, lets you know that I'm OK. I'm doing great. I don't need any help," Davis said.
The concerned mother came up with the idea about a year ago after her son obtained his driver's license.
"I can't have him driving without me being able to be right there for him if he needs me," she said, noting the increased risk of police pulling over Black men.
The clinical psychologist used her own money to launch the app, which has received positive feedback from many Black parents after going live this past summer.
"My sons, they don't like to call and check-in or send a text. They just like to push that button to say 'I'm OK' and then I can be off of their back as they call it," Davis said.
According to NBC News, the Stanford Open Policing Project examined almost 100 million traffic stops across the country from 2011 to 2017. The study concluded that police frequently stopped and searched Black and Latinx drivers on the basis of less evidence than used in stopping white drivers, who are searched less often but more likely to be found with illegal items.
"Because of this analysis, we're able to get to that anecdotal story to say this is really happening," said Sharad Goel, an assistant professor in management science and engineering at Stanford and a co-author of the study.
As Blavity previously reported, the high-profile case of Philando Castile highlighted the glaring issue in 2016. Castile was in the car with his girlfriend when he was pulled over by a Minnesota police officer who shot and killed him.
"There's no longer the idea of Officer Friendly, who might help you understand why they pulled you over. Now, it's about using racial profiling to control people and place fear in them," said David Lowery, founder of the Living & Driving While Black Foundation in Chicago. "Then, you've got money tied up into this. Who can write the most tickets? Who can put the most people in jail and into the court system? It’s no longer about a simple traffic stop for safety."
The Just Us app is available to download for free in the Apple App Store.