#TechTalksWithMelwyn – F The Police – F Is For Film
The past few weeks have been both powerful and emotional, and we find ourselves standing at the center of a journey to build a better future for Black people and other People of Color (POC). This week on #TechTalksWithMelwyn, we’re talking about the incidents of police brutality, global protests, and how technology helps take the first step.
American Civil liberty unions (ACLUs) across the country have been working on improving the quality of policing action for a while now, but the latest user-generated code on Apple Shortcuts is what is making the headlines. ‘Pulled Over By Police’ the new automation available for download on Apple shortcuts allows a user to speak directly to their voice assistant, Siri, to enable recording when they have been stopped by the police.
With iOS 12, Apple released the shortcuts app that allows users to define a set of steps that will be taken with a single voice command or action. This can be used to open applications, trigger alarms, or even plan your route home based on traffic. As an example, I have set up “Play My Jam” that triggers whenever I connect my phone to a CarPlay cable – my phone automatically opens the Youtube Music app and plays my favorite song. Alternatively, I can trigger the same activities by saying ‘Hey Siri, play my jam’.
To set up a Pulled Over Police shortcut, you can either build your own shortcut or download the already created one using this link. If you do use the link, all you need to do is say ‘Hey Siri, I’m getting pulled over’ and the following actions are automatically taken by your iPhone:
- Any music or video that is being played is paused
- Your phone goes into Do Not Disturb mode so that the recording doesn’t pause due to incoming calls
- A message is sent to a predefined contact that you have been pulled over along with your location. (You have to set up this emergency contact beforehand)
- Your screen brightness is lowered to the minimum and the front camera is turned on
- Once the recording is complete, the brightness and volume go back up to the previous setting and a copy of the video is saved to your iCloud and sent to your contact (just in case your phone gets damaged or goes missing during the police episode)
What if you don’t have an iPhone?
The ACLU of New York, NYCLU, created a Stop and Frisk Watch App in 2013 that is free and available both on Android and iOS and is available in both English and Spanish. According to the NYCLU website, this allows bystanders to fully document stop-and-frisk encounters and alert community members when a street stop is in progress.
The 3 main functions of this app are to record a police encounter with audio, to receive alerts when someone in the vicinity has been stopped, and to simply report a police encounter even if you didn’t record a video of it. Once users finish recording, they are immediately directed to a survey, and then both the video and survey are sent to the NYCLU.
With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
With over 260M smartphone users in the US, these tools have the power to make us feel secure and provide evidence if needed. However, it is very important to bear in mind the following things, and I can’t stress these enough:
- DO NOT try to put the smartphone in between yourself and an officer as it may be considered as an attempt to stop the officer from performing his/her duties. While you’re at it, absolutely avoid an aggressive stance.
- KNOW the local law before you turn indie filmmaker. Most states allow citizens to record police officers as long as it doesn’t physically interfere with their work.
- DO NOT secretly record. Tell the officer in a calm and composed voice that you are recording this encounter. It is a part of your First Amendment rights if the local law doesn’t forbid it.
Once again, this article is focused on the availability of tools that can help you feel safer as opposed to a guideline of what to do when you are stopped. We at DissDash continue to wish and pray for your safety during these troubled times.
Fount of wisdom, insufferable know it all, make it go away are just some of the phrases used to define Melwyn. When he is not at his Consulting job, he spends his time reading about technology and current affairs.