Pulled over while connected: Siri can quietly video record the police

Just say, “Hey Siri, I’m getting pulled over.”

One of the latest apps to hit the iOS 12 mobile highway is Shortcuts. With it, users can plot out a series of actions and trigger them by signaling the voice-assistant. One savvy user created an add-on called Police that can give drivers added security during traffic stops

The brainchild of Redditer Robert Petersen of Arizona, Police was created to covertly record law enforcement officials to “keep everyone safe and honest.”

“I have noticed in reading news articles and seeing reports on TV that in many cases you end up with police saying one thing happened and the citizen being pulled over saying another,” Petersen said to USA TODAY. “And how do you determine truth? Sometimes the police have body cams, sometimes not, and even when they do it’s not always released in a timely manner.”

How does the shortcut work?

Once Siri is alerted about the traffic stop, the program springs into action to pause any music that may be playing, turn down your screen brightness and puts your phone in Do Not Disturb mode. Siri then sends a text message to a designated emergency contact to let them know what’s happening.

The front camera turns on to record video of the occurrence.

“When dealing with being pulled over and interacting with law enforcement, you want as little distraction as possible, and that includes music, bright screens and notifications coming in,” Petersen said. “You want to be focused on the encounter at hand and don’t want any unnecessary distraction to yourself or to law enforcement personnel.”

Once users stop the recording, a copy of the video is sent to a specified contact, the brightness returns to normal, and Do Not Disturb is disabled, Petersen said.

While this application comes at a time when police surveillance is a hot topic, Shortcuts isn’t the first app to help document encounters with police.

In 2017, the American Civil Liberties Union released an Android app called “ACLU Blue” that allows people to record law enforcement and share those recordings in a public forum. Another app in the Google Play store called “I’m Getting Arrested!”  enables anyone, with one click, to broadcast a custom alert message in the event they are arrested, and there are several others.

While he’s proud of his creation, Petersen said he would be happy if no one ever needs to use it.

“My only goal with the Police shortcut is trying to help people stay safe … and honest,” he said. “99.999 percent of the time you’ll never need it, but if you end up in a situation where it ended up being a good idea, you’ll be thankful you did.”

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