Tech startup TurnSignl has created an app with the goal of de-escalating encounters between motorists and the police.
The Minneapolis-based company recently launched the app in Georgia and has nearly a dozen attorneys signed on to advise drivers how to interact with law enforcement if they are pulled over in a traffic stop.
Founded by Mychal Frelix, Andre Creighton, and Jazz Hampton in 2020, the TurnSignl app connects the user to an attorney via phone and also records the encounter with police. The lawyer gives real-time legal advice to the user during the interaction with law enforcement.
Hampton said he and his partners created the app after watching multiple traffic stops go wrong, including Philando Castile, who was shot seven times at close range in his car by a St. Paul policeman. Co-founders Creighton and Frelix grew up going to school and playing sports with the Castile family.
With the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other high-profile incidents, the co-founders knew that had to be part of a solution. All three left full-time tech jobs to build TurnSignl and the company now employs a dozen people.
“We built TurnSignl app to bridge a gap in communication, protect the civil rights of drivers, and make sure everyone gets home safely,” Hampton said.
He was quick to point out that TurnSignl is not a “cop watch” app. “We have met with the police to make sure they feel good about this app, because it’s for them, too. We also want officers to feel safe when they are approaching a car.”
Hampton said recruiting attorneys has been easier than expected. “They are excited to be part of it and have reached out to us to become part of the team.”
With TurnSignl now live in Georgia, there are ongoing efforts to make law enforcement around the state aware of the app.
An officer may ask a motorist to put away or shut off their phone, and Hampton said the driver should let the officer know they are using the app and ask to remain on the line, but in the end follow commands.
TurnSignl is gaining popularity in Minnesota, where iHeartRadio just offered the app to all its employees. Memberships are $6.99 per month or $60 per year, however those who can’t afford it will still be able download and use the app.
Subscribers get a bumpersticker for their vehicle, which Hampton said would also alert an approaching police officer that the driver has the app.
Hampton said TurnSignl also hopes to partner with historically Black colleges and universities to offer the app to students at low or no cost.
The rollout of the app will continue nationwide with Washington D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and California next on the list.