“Tell me about your most memorable experience with a cop,” I asked. Complete silence. In a room comprised with two black men and one black woman living in Chicago, the answer is devastatingly obvious. Especially when the Chicago Tribune reports that, every five days on average a Chicago police officer fires a gun at someone, 435 shootings over a recent six year span officers killed 92 people and wounded 170.
“Well, it was my mom’s birthday the other day,” responded Channing J. Harris, the CEO of Excuse Me Officer (XMO), with a chuckle.
Harris’s comment was a lighter moment in our discussion of mostly indifferent or hostile experiences with law enforcement. Experiences that XMO is bringing to light, with an app that provides a ‘no filter’ approach to police accountability.
XMO, Excuse Me Officer is a “revolutionary mobile platform that allows citizens to report both acts of heroism and misconduct within the police community.” It provides a solution to the ever demanding need of transparency between police officers and the public.
For Harris, whose mother is a police officer and a member of the National Executives of Black Law Enforcement Executives, the transparency of what was happening in and outside a police headquarters, happened naturally. Numerous police encounters for Harris had taken place, but nothing was more relevant and life changing than almost losing his best friend, due to a police cover up.
Because of this, and the shared experiences by those around him, he decided to create an app that would show “who are the good cops like my mom, and who are the bad cops like the one who almost killed by best friend.”
The XMO app has several important features that are all dictated by the community. The app starts by determining the users location and provides an overall rating of incidents or activities happening in their own backyard. From there, the user is able to rate/report an incident, the most well-known feature of the app. The rating feature of the app encourages the user to look for certain details when they are in an interaction with law enforcement, such as the time, place, and even badge number of the officer. The user is also able to access a roll call (informs lawyer of when and where an arrest has happened) or add to the evidence locker (a video uploading tool). Both important features for the database.
The information received has several uses. The community is able to see interactions by district, however, this data means nothing unless it is used by a source that can make changes directly. XMO is actively selling a customized data display for the city of Chicago. A type of technological advance, coupled by properly operated body cameras and longer police training, could decrease the city’s overwhelming budget of 70 million a year in misconduct calls.
Because XMO is information collected from the community, it was important that this app was shared with the community from the beginning. “It gives people a voice,” stated Mike Shaw, the Marketing Director of XMO. During the summer of 2016, XMO held several community events such as a block party on the city’s westside and a basketball game on the south-side. Events like these encourage police officers to participate and better understand the communities in which they serve on a personal level. XMO is not only helping to strengthen the community relations with law enforcement, but strengthen the mental health of its residents within the community, through efforts such as trap yoga.
At the end of the interview the team of XMO asked me, “who is your favorite T.V cop?” This question lead to a lengthy discussion of famed fictional law enforcement characters, ranging from the fatherly, such as Carl Winslow from Family Matters to the overly compassionate Lieutenant Stabler from Law and Order: SVU, and the charismatic depictions, like Mike Lowery from the Bad Boys movie franchises. The overall perception, through these various characters, remained the same, that they were cops who were able to relate to their community. A reminder that there are some types of good cops out there.
XMO is creating transparency in a profound way. They have had great success in competitions such as the South Side Pitch and are hoping to continue their momentum as they launch their kickstarter this month. They plan on launching their app in early 2017. Be sure, fellow seekers, to support the vision of this platform by staying up to date on the latest news and developments. Subscribe to the XMO newsletter here!
This conversation was full of great dialogue. Listen to the fully transparent interview between myself and the founders on the Good Seeker podcast below.