For many drivers, being pulled over for a traffic violation by law enforcement is a very stressful situation. That’s why engineers Tyler Hochman and Jackson Lallas decided to create SafeStop, a mobile app seeking to transform traffic stops by enhancing communication between motorists and police officers.
The West Hollywood Police Department this month became the first department in the nation to launch the pilot program in partnership with SafeStop. Captain William Moulder of the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station emphasized the program’s modern approach, calling it an “innovative tool for our deputies to use in appropriate situations during traffic stops.”
After being pulled over, a driver can immediately begin a video call with the police officer who stopped them. This gives the officer an opportunity to explain standard procedure for the traffic stop before approaching the vehicle. During this preliminary video call, officers can better assess the situation and determine whether any potential threats exist before approaching the vehicle. For the motorist, the app provides real-time, detailed instructions on what to expect when interacting with the officer.
“We are proud to partner with local police in West Hollywood to find creative solutions” said co-founders Hochman and Lallas. “Our goal is to make motorist-police interactions safer and more transparent.”
Both the Sheriff’s Department and the app’s co-founders believe that shifting the initial point of contact between motorists and police officers to the digital space can help deescalate tense situations, create greater transparency and facilitate smoother interactions on the road.
No private information is shared with the officer. The deputy will only be told the car’s make and model to ensure that it is the correct vehicle.
West Hollywood locals said they’re excited about the potential for this new app.
“It takes a lot of pressure out from both parties from feeling like any altercations might happen,” said Lauren Doblas, a West Hollywood resident, in an interview with KTLA.
Richard Jones, an apartment manager in West Hollywood, recently experienced a very aggressive interaction with law enforcement during a traffic stop. He sees SafeStop as a great way to prevent similarly tense interactions from happening in the future.
“This is exciting. We definitely need something like this with the crimes going on,” Jones told KCAL News.
To encourage West Hollywood residents to download the app, SafeStop has pledged to pay a portion of a driver’s ticket if they are using the app during routine traffic stops.
The pilot program is set to run for six months to a year. Hochman and Lallas are hopeful that their app will gain traction with police officers, as they stand to benefit from engaging motorists from a safe distance. If successful, SafeStop’s partnership with the West Hollywood Police Department could lead to future collaborations in California and other states.
“Bottom line, we want to help police and communities come together,” Lallas said. “The launch of this pilot program in West Hollywood is the first important step in reaching that goal.”