DAVIDSON, NC — Davidson College is celebrating “Innovation Week” by putting the spotlight on startups created by students and alumni.
One alum is showcasing the latest version of his app, which is designed to help people record, livestream and alert others if they’ve been pulled over by police.
When Mbye Njie was a student at Davidson College, he said he was repeatedly pulled over and was tired of feeling targeted by police.
“I remember who I was pulled over with, I remember the locations,” Njie said about driving around campus.
Njie said he now has what he considers a mild form of PTSD.
“If I even get a police car behind me without even the sirens coming on, I still get super nervous. Like my hands, my palms will start sweating. My hands sometimes will start shaking, like I have to control myself,” he said.
After he saw a rise in cases of police brutality, he got an idea to help people learn their rights and also stay safe if they’re ever pulled over.
“I would just have the phone held up like that, and I would let the officer know ‘Hey officer, I’ve got my mom and my best friend are on the phone right now just to make sure everything is okay. How are you doing,” he said.
The premise behind the Legal Equalizer app is simple. The user selects close friends or family in the app. Once the app is opened, you hit “text your contact” and a pre-drafted text is sent with your location. Then the user starts recording.
Njie is back at Davidson College as the Innovator in Residence. He received a $75,000 grant to grow the app, and to bring on Davidson students to help work on the project.
Sohan Gade, a junior at Davidson, is one of the students working on the new form of the app.
“I came to Davidson thinking about doing political science or one of those humanities subjects, and my parents are both working in technology. So, I thought this project was merging the two in a nice way,” Gade said.
Njie said the new version of the app will be for attorneys. Users can contact attorneys before the start recording, and this way it helps attorneys reach new clients.
Njie has also branched out from police encounters and traffic stops. The latest version of the app allows people to alert family members in situations like school shootings, sexual and domestic assault, and immigration issues.