How to Use Siri to Record Police Stops

Photo credit: AJ Colores/Unsplash

There are 3.8 billion smartphone users around the world in 2021. That’s more than the total amount of Facebook and Instagram users combined. And out of that smartphone bunch, almost half (1.5 billion) are iPhone users. Judging from the 7.8 billion people there are around the world, that still leaves about half without a smartphone at all. Give them time. They’ll probably come around (or are too young to be able to operate one). 

While the numbers continue to rise for hand-held technology, unfortunately, there’s another number that’s rising again, too: people shot to death by U.S. police. While the numbers decreased since 2017 for white and Hispanic people—457 for white people and 179 for people of Hispanic origin in 2017, and 432 white people and 156 Hispanics in 2020—2019 and 2020 had increases in black people compared to 2017 (223 in 2017 versus 226 in 2020).

Now whether these numbers are higher or lower is arguable, considering every fatal death is not caught on tape nor always calculated this way, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s incomplete records for those not killed by gunshot (i.e. George Floyd types of deaths) and the FBI’s database records of “justifiable homicides” of “felons” by police. And if Floyd’s death was not caught on tape publicly, many may not have been able to confirm the way he was arrested or how he was killed. 

So how do people protect themselves better when interacting with police? It turns out that those billions of smartphone users may not realize that they have a preventative, record-keeping device on hand with them at all times. Yes, it can be used for Siri to look up restaurant locations and set calendar dates, but this Apple device is also a useful way to record police interactions. 

How to use Siri for recording police pulling you over

In order to use this recording option correctly, devices must be running on a minimum of iOS12 to activate the shortcut. Here are the remaining steps.

  1. Download the Shortcuts app, which is found in the App Store. Shortcuts includes more than 300 built-in actions that work with apps like Contacts, Calendars, Maps, Reminders and Cameras. 
  2. Once it’s downloaded, click this link on the built-in Safari browser to set up the Shortcut. (It will not work in any other browser but Safari for now.) 
  3. Enable “unverified” Shortcuts on your device by going to “Settings,” clicking “Shortcuts” and choosing “Allow Untrusted Shortcuts.” By doing this, your GPS can work with your iCloud drive to send your coordinates during a police encounter. 

What happens when Siri records police interactions? 

Think of Siri as your trusted Diamond Reynolds (the girlfriend of the late Philando Castile), who will keep track of what’s going on as an officer approaches your car. Just say, “Hey, Siri, I’m being pulled over.” The device will pause the music you’re playing, activate the smartphone screen dimmer, initiate front-facing video recording, and send the video and current location to your emergency contact. 

If done correctly with Siri, and should you have to go to court, you will have an unbiased third party that will be able to confirm exactly what happened during the police interaction. It’s highly recommended to test this feature out with the emergency contact beforehand. Setting up a practice run in your car (both at night and during the day) will better prepare you for any on-screen prompts that must be selected in order for Siri to keep track of a police arrest.

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