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New Siri app uses voice command to record interactions with police

Posted: 7:25 PM, Nov 19, 2018
Updated: 2018-11-20 18:54:32Z

Your phone can do so many things for you nowadays. From making payments at the cash register to searching social media, the world is in the palm of your hands. But Siri can also be on your side in case you get pulled over by the cops.

The feature is called "Police" and it is available via the Siri Shortcuts app. 

It secretly allows you to record interactions with police by just speaking a command to Siri like, “Hey, Siri. I’m being pulled over by the police.”

“I think it’s a tool that citizens need in order to make police accountable,” said retired Detroit police officer turned attorney, David A. Robinson.

The new Siri shortcut is available for Apple iOS 12 devices. It allows you to secretly record conversations between you and law enforcement.

“What we have seen are video captures of police officers losing it, irrationally starting confrontations with citizens,” Robinson said.

Once the app receives a verbal command, it goes into "do not disturb" mode. It automatically turns down brightness, pauses sound or video and can send a message to a pre-selected contact, letting them know you’ve been pulled over.

“Police go to an academy as to how to deal with citizens, and so to suggest that (the app) is manipulating an officer, that really doesn’t make sense,” Robinson said.

He adds that the app would have been good to have during the 2016 confrontation between Philando Castile and a Minnesota police officer after Castile was shot by the cop. Castile's girlfriend recorded the whole thing as he died in the front passenger seat.

“What was captured in the video, and so the video evidence becomes that more important,” Robinson said.

Some say the app is controversial, but there are similar police-recording apps like "ACLU Blue." Robinson says law enforcement should use the app as a tool. 

“That would stifle his reaction to make him do the rational thing, the right thing, the legal thing, then that prevents harm to him and prevents harm to the citizen,” Robinson said.

The ACLU says it is legal to record officers in public, and police are not allowed to delete your footage, confiscate or demand to view your video footage without a warrant.