New Apple Shortcut Allows Users to Record Police Encounters

Police brutality goes all the way back to about 1872, when the first report involved the beating of a civilian who was under arrest at the Harrison Street Police Station in Chicago, reported by the Chicago Tribune.                                                   Some of us have seen and heard cases such as the 2016 shooting of Philando Castile, 32, who was shot to death in his own car by a police officer in Minnesota while his girlfriend and 4-year-old daughter were with him.                                                        

There are more local examples such as the one that occurred at the college I transferred from, Rowan University in Glassboro. On Oct. 1, senior Altaif Hassan and freshman Giovanna Roberson were pulled over on false weapon claims on campus and held at gunpoint by the police. 

Cases like that are reasons why many are afraid of the people expected to protect the citizens of our country.

If you’ve ever been pulled over by a police officer, did you feel safe and confident, or timid and afraid? Regardless of what your answer may be, inventive Arizona man and Reddit user, Robert Petersen, teamed with Apple to create a shortcut for those who come in contact with the police. This iOS 12 update allows users to create their own apps, which can include combinations of just about any feature imagined. 

Creating the police widget encourages people to download the app called “Shortcuts,” create a new shortcut by renaming it, add in what they’d want it to accomplish such as taking photos, picking up locations, etc. Siri then accesses it by recording the sound of their voice and, lastly, adding it onto their home screens. 

Those who become fearful when they see or hear police sirens behind them may want to consider setting this up on their phones. The shortcut allows people to say, “Siri, I’m getting pulled over,” and, if they choose to include these settings, their phones will be modified-on command. Regardless of what mode their phones were in prior, Siri can instantly end their music, lower the brightness on their phones, go into Do Not Disturb mode, record what’s taking place, pick up their locations and send it to a selected contact. According to CBS Philadelphia, the shortcut is designed “to keep everyone safe and honest.”

Petersen recalled in an interview with USA Today, “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.

“You want to be focused on the encounter at hand and don’t want any unnecessary distraction to yourself or to law enforcement personnel,” Petersen said. 

Students on campus shared their excitement about the app. 

Demara Barnes, sophomore TV, film and radio major stated, “With everything going on in the world, I love that Apple has now created a way to help the people, especially African Americans who aren’t being justified.”

Though this may sound like a great and original idea, it is not the first attempt to create an app like this. CBS Philadelphia shared that, in 2017, the American Civil Liberties Union released an app for Android users called “ACLU Blue” that also records law enforcement and shares the videos to a public forum. So, even though the police shortcut is specifically for Apple users, Android users are also provided with an outlet for potential, but hopefully unnecessary, justice. 

— Sierra McCoy

Senior journalism major

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