Earlier this month, Channing Harris, a Chicago-based entrepreneur, and his team of developers placed first in the city’s annual South Side Pitch competition with Excuse Me Officer, a crowdsourced rating application for the police.
What Yelp does for businesses, Excuse Me Officer (XMO) wants to do for people’s interactions with the police. Users can describe and rate their experiences with officers with either Excuse Me Officer’s mobile app or its website.
Speaking to DNAInfo, Harris explained that he was driven to create the platform by a desire for increased accountability from the police after a close friend of his was attacked and beaten by an off-duty officer so brutally that it left her with a ruptured appendix. When other officers arrived on the scene, Harris said, his friend was handcuffed and taken into custody despite the severity of her injuries.
As the son of a police officer, Harris told the site, he was deeply invested in making it easier for people to truly see the police as human beings.
“I want to show the hero cops and the bad cops,” he said. “The media wants to focus on the bad story so much that the hero cops get ignored.”
After winning $4000 in seed money from South Side Pitch, Harris and his team are moving forward with Excuse Me Officer’s development and aim to launch their app this winter.
It’s easy to understand Excuse Me Officer’s feel-good appeal and why Google is currently considering it for another round of funding to the tune of $100,000. In an ideal world, officers would regard their scores much in the same way that restaurants do their Yelp scores: as a reflection of their quality that could directly impact their personal and professional success.
But encounters with the police are fundamentally different experiences than going out for dinner at a new restaurant. While Excuse Me Officer might make sense in situations in which a person calls the police for relatively minor complaint, the same might not be true for a more serious situation in which things escalate very quickly and people don’t have the opportunity to talk things out, collect an officer’s information, and then write a review of their experience.