jump to example.com

Police raid the sharing economy

economic-forecast-header | Support this author on Patreon

The “sharing economy” is all the rage these days ever since the likes of Uber, Lyft, AirBnb, and others took the market by storm. Sharing economy style apps and services are slowly beginning to pop up for more and more services from food sharing to tool lending and now apparently policing.

Recent budget cuts to some departments have left some to wonder what to do in the face of potential crime, while others more skeptical of the police system’s problematic track record are looking for alternatives altogether. Groups such as the Huey P. Newton Gun Club, private arbitration services such as the American Arbitration Association, community accountability processes, and apps such as Peacekeeper have sprung up as realistic alternatives to the current militaristic policing system and prison industrial complex. Sidney Torres from Louisiana, who made his fortune in the trash business during the aftermath of Katrina, however had a different idea.

After complaining time and again to Mayor Mitch Andrieu of the “rising crime rates” and demanding more officers to be put on duty at any given time only to hear excuses about budgetary restraints, Torres was told that, “if it’s so easy, maybe he should take some of that money and do it himself.” And Torres decidedly did just that. Investing in a couple of ATVs refurbished with police lights for proper transport and paying off duty officers a whopping $50 an hour, Torres managed to band together the fleet for his new app: French Quarter Task Force. With the help of Bob Sims, a retired rocket scientist, he developed the French Quarter Task Force app which allows users within the French Quarter location to report any “suspicious persons or activities” on the app along with photos and details directly to off duty police officers on the “Task Force” who are able to respond in mere minutes zooming through the crowded French Quarter in their flashing golf carts faster than if you called them while they were on duty.

However critics point out that with such a vague notion as to the definition of “suspicious persons or activities” and an app designed to function as the smartphone equivalent of a see something, say something campaign, encouraging people to make reporting to the police as much of a person’s daily life in the Quarter as ordering an Uber to drive you home from the bar after an all night bender, only puts more police on the streets, thus potentially bringing harm to New Orleans’ large black, queer, and homeless populations.

While this system has some limited potential to hold the Task Force officers more accountable than the police department does, having the ability to fire cops who use excessive force or otherwise abuse their status from their well paid side job, they make no such promises to do so. In truth, the very fact that they hired off duty police to be the staff for this private police force shows that it is no serious policing alternative but rather private funding for the current system. They’re the same cops with the same badges, weapons, and abilities to arrest you and use “necessary” physical and even lethal force. The only “alternative” is the manner of reporting, the source of the funding, and the mode of transportation.

There is some speculation that this app comes as retaliation to apps like the ACLU’s Mobile Justice app which lets you film and upload potential police abuse directly to the ACLU. And while it is unlikely that there is any direct connection, the similarities are obvious. This is a perfect example of the double edged sword that is technology. The tools of liberation can also become the tools for our oppression.

While apps like Peacekeeper and Cell411 show that the sharing economy does have solutions to offer when it comes to the question of policing alternatives, the French Quarter Task Force proves only to be an extension of the status quo agenda. Much like Uber has been called a capitalist drink bottled in a sharing economy glass, the app appropriately referred to as “Uber for cops” is a statist model pretending to be part of the peer-to-peer world.


Street Knowledge with Chris Graham: Libertarian gubernatorial nominee Cliff Hyra

Chris Graham interviews Libertarian gubernatorial nominee Cliff Hyra.

Another new poll gives Northam big lead in Virginia governor race

One Virginia governor race poll released yesterday had Democrat Ralph Northam and Republican Ed Gillespie tied.

Poll: Trump unpopular in Virginia

President Donald Trump is well under water among Virginia voters, according to new poll results released by the University of Mary Washington.

The Petty Hearts bring Tom Petty tribute to Wayne Theatre on Sept. 22

Tom Petty tribute band The Petty Hearts are coming to the Wayne Theatre on Friday, Sept. 22.

Virginia Chili, Blues n' Brews Festival set for Saturday

The Virginia Chili, Blues n' Brews Festival will celebrate its 10th anniversary on Saturday in Downtown Waynesboro.

Events Calendar

Upcoming events in the Shenandoah Valley, Central Virginia and statewide from the Augusta Free Press Events Calendar. Don't see your event listed? Email augustafreepress2@gmail.com.

UVA alum Chris Long to donate first six NFL game checks to fund scholarships

The Chris Long Foundation announced today that Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long will donate his first six game checks of the 2017 NFL season to fund two scholarships in his hometown of Charlottesville.

Game Preview: VMI, Chattanooga look to get back on track on Saturday

VMI knew the 2017 football season was going to be a rebuilding year. Chattanooga, coming off a playoff appearance in 2016, had its usual high expectations.

Game Preview: UVA has a chance at Boise State

Vegas and the ESPN Power Index don’t give UVA much of a chance to win at Boise State on Friday night.

Street Knowledge with Chris Graham: First look at UVA-Boise State

Chris Graham and Scott German take a first look at the UVA-Boise State game set for Friday night.

Web Design, Marketing

Augusta Free Press LLC provides clients in the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia and beyond with marketing and PR solutions including web design, TV/radio, social media and overall marketing campaign design and implementation.

Recent Posts
Your One-Stop Media Shop
Augusta Free Press LLC provides clients in the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia and beyond with marketing and PR solutions including web design, magazine/brochure, TV/radio, social media and overall marketing campaign design and implementation.
  • Web Design

    You want a new website, but don’t have the first clue as to how to build one. That’s our job. We take care of all facets of web design – visual design, layout design and content development. Get your business online for as little as $1,299.
    Learn more about AFP Web Design services.
  • Graphic Design

    The staff at Augusta Free Press Publishing has been recognized by the Virginia Press Association for excellence in layout and design. Whether you need a fresh business card design, rack card, ad, flyer or full magazine design, we can help with all your graphic-design needs.
    Learn more about AFP Graphic Design services.
  • Marketing

    Augusta Free Press manages advertising campaigns for small- and medium-sized businesses across Virginia. You don’t need to hire a full-time marketing coordinator. Bring the experience of the Augusta Free Press team to work for you – for a fraction of the cost.
    Learn more about AFP Marketing services.