The proliferation of video cameras in smartphones and dash cams have brought to light that police misconduct can occur during what should be a routine traffic stop. Police have often been taken to task for unfair and sometimes even illegal treatment of motorists during traffic stops. Thankfully, iPhone users who wish to memorialize their interactions with police when pulled over by police can utilize a custom shortcut. Note that in some states (NY and NJ are not in this category) recording police interactions without their consent is against the law.
Shortcuts are a feature in recent versions of the iPhone software that allow the user to execute multiple tasks at the same time, and can be activated by voice command. First identified last year, the I’m Getting Pulled Over shortcut does three things:
- Activates the Do Not Disturb feature, turning off all incoming calls, messages, and notifications (so as to not startle the officer or arouse suspicion).
- Sends a text to pre-designated contacts with your current location.
- Starts recording with the front camera.
The recording can be stopped at any time by pressing the volume buttons or the stop recording button on the home screen. When the recording stops, a prompt will allow the user to send the video to pre-selected contacts; unfortunately, this part cannot be automated.
Developed in 2018 by Arizona resident Robert Petersen, the shortcut was designed to be used while mounted on a vehicle's dash with the front facing the driver. However, it can be customized to use a rear camera or add additional tasks to the process.
For now, there isn’t a similar app or downloadable shortcut for Android phones. However, it is possible to make one with a little effort.
iPhone users can download the shortcut using the following instructions:
- Make sure you have the Shortcuts app from the iPhone store (it’s free). This must be opened using the Safari web browser on iOS 12.
- In your settings, enable Shortcuts to allow “untrusted shortcuts.”
- Download the I’m Getting Pulled Over shortcut using Safari on the iPhone.
- Press “Add Untrusted Shortcut.”
- Select the contacts that will receive the location text.
- Select the contacts that will receive the video.
- Select done.
Activating the shortcut can be done using the Shortcut app or using the voice command, “Siri, I’m getting pulled over.”
While the feature is not likely to help a person get out of a traffic ticket, it can serve as evidence if the police’s treatment is unfair, and be used to defend one against possible criminal charges.