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North Dakota police streaming traffic stops live

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The police department in Fargo, North Dakota, has decided to use the Periscope app to stream traffic stops as they happen. The move has many people wondering if it is a great way to raise awareness about public safety, or if it will be used as a device for public shaming.

In an interview with NBC News, Fargo police officer Jessica Schindeldecker said, “It’s just another form to talk to people.” She also said, “We want people to ask us questions or be able to interact with us in a positive way, and this was just one more form of them to be able to do that.”

On Wednesday, the Fargo Police Department conducted their first live streamed traffic stops near North Dakota State University using the Periscope app, which is owned by Twitter.

Even though Officer Schindeldecker said the police department will try to limit the video they share through the Periscope app, some drivers questioned having their interactions with police officers being displayed there.

Screen shot from video of traffic stop captured on Periscope App.
Screen shot from video of traffic stop captured on Periscope App.

Fargo resident Mara Paulson said, “If you’re either friends with that person or knew who that was, (or) recognized the car, you can tell who that is.” She also said, “I think it would be more for entertainment purposes for everyone watching, not like, ‘Oh, I shouldn’t do that type of thing.'”

Despite the objections raised by some Fargo residents, other police departments and public agencies feel using Periscope can be an empowering tool, especially in the wake of increasing camera use related to perceived police brutality around the country.

Last week, Troy Doyle, a Lieutenant Colonel with the St. Louis County Police Department, drew national attention when he used Periscope to chronicle a night of civil unrest in the state.

Baltimore police spokesman T.J. Smith, who joined the department two weeks ago, is another law enforcement agent that has been using Periscope. He likes to use the app to showcase police officers as they are out on patrols. He also uses it to broadcast news conferences.

In an interview with NBC News on Friday, Smith said that he feels police departments should be more transparent. He also said, “Things are literally now at our fingertips, and we should take advantage of (social media platforms) if they work for us.”

Officer Smith supports the use of social media platforms like Periscope to break down barriers between police and citizens. At the same time, he is wary of using it to live stream traffic stops and other situations that could violate people’s privacy.

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