Need To Record Cops? There’s A Civilian Bodycam App For That

November 20, 2018
By: Aaron Rasmussen

Photo by: iPhone [USA Today video screenshot]

iPhone [USA Today video screenshot]

Citizens concerned about their safety during traffic stops can now ask Siri to record video of their interaction with police.

"It seemed to me that if you’re getting pulled over, it couldn’t hurt to have a recording of the incident," Arizona-based amateur developer Robert Petersen explained to Business Insider. “The police these days in many places have bodycams, so this could be the civilian equivalent."

To have the ability to record using voice commands — such as: "Hey Siri, I'm being pulled over" — users must install and set up the new iPhone feature called Shortcuts, an app which allows anyone to write scripts. It can then be configured to run Peterson's add-on, called "Police."

After it's ready to go, the command activates the shortcut — pausing any music, dimming the screen, and switching the phone to "do not disturb" mode. The add-on then creates and sends a text to a designated emergency contact to let them know of the traffic stop in progress.

"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."

The camera will continue documenting until it is stopped. Footage is then automatically delivered to a designated contact and can also be texted, emailed, and saved to Dropbox.

"My only goal with the Police shortcut is trying to help people stay safe … and honest," Peterson said in an interview with USA Today. "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."

And recordings could also capture more than just interactions gone wrong between civilians and authorities. "Apps like this are not only going to occasionally and hopefully rarely catch bad police behavior, but they are also going to highlight good police behavior, and citizens need to see both things," Tennessee attorney Don Bosch told WBIR.

Petersen added that while the app works for videoing police, it can also be used for other reasons. "One woman planned on using the shortcut to help with a stalker issue she was having with an ex-boyfriend so that she could send her location to family quickly should anything occur," he said. "That's one of the great things about Shortcuts: Anyone can edit a shortcut someone else has made to suit their specific needs."

Read more: Business Insider, WBIR, USA Today

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