iOS Shortcut for Recording the Police

Hey Siri; I’m getting pulled over” can be a shortcut:

Once the shortcut is installed and configured, you just have to say, for example, “Hey Siri, I’m getting pulled over.” Then the program pauses music you may be playing, turns down the brightness on the iPhone, and turns on “do not disturb” mode.

It also sends a quick text to a predetermined contact to tell them you’ve been pulled over, and it starts recording using the iPhone’s front-facing camera. Once you’ve stopped recording, it can text or email the video to a different predetermined contact and save it to Dropbox.

Posted on June 7, 2019 at 6:24 AM32 Comments


Petre Peter June 7, 2019 6:45 AM

Cool! Don’t you also have to let them know that they’re being recorded? You know, for quality assurance purposes.

LandR June 7, 2019 7:17 AM

What is wrong with American police forces that this is a required thing?


I couldn’t imagine anyone in my country wanting or needing a thing like this. Police should be people you can trust, not an entity to need to defend yourself from / be wary off.

You’ve somehow gone very wrong.

Warren June 7, 2019 8:09 AM

@LandR – I cannot imagine anywhere where it would not be a good idea to record interactions with the police: there a huge power imbalance between a police officer and someone being pulled over, and having that recording helps to level the playing field if something [allegedly] goes awry

Just an Australian June 7, 2019 8:13 AM

In times past I was puzzled by Americans referring to themselves as the ‘World Police’. It became clear that they were Police as in the ‘Ferguson Police Department’ harassing locals for financial exploitation and killing natives with impunity. Then it all made sense.

wumpus June 7, 2019 8:32 AM

@Petre Peter:
Depends on the state, but expect it to be true. On the other hand, I’d expect readers of this site to be familiar with the ancient trick of leaving a camera out in plain sight (which will be confiscated/smashed/turned off) and having another hidden one still recording (and likely broadcasting to a secure site) away.

You have to tell him he’s being recorded. There’s no requirement to remind him that he’s still being recorded when he’s disabled one camera…

wiredog June 7, 2019 8:40 AM

I never worry about getting pulled over, and the police always treat me with respect.

Why, yes, I am a white male. How did you know that?

War Geek June 7, 2019 8:48 AM

First: IANL. Do your own research to confirm the statutes in your own state.

But, at least in non-secret law, unless you live in one of the ‘Two Party Consent’ states and last time I checked only 11 of the 50 states fall into that category, you are not required to tell the officer that they are being recorded.

Last time I looked it was the following: California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Washington. And I really like the wording on the NH statute which aims squarely at the Federal agencies who seem to believe they are entitled to wiretap.

Whether those recordings can be evidence in court falls into a more complicated patchwork of local statutes.


Andy June 7, 2019 9:05 AM

Since 2014 in IL it’s a crime to record audio without both parties consent only if it’s done in a surreptitious manner. The original dual consent law was ruled unconstitutional after supposed arrests by police of people videotaping their police interactions.

So in IL the law appears to protect video and audio (audio is the rub) recording of police encounters as long as you’re not hiding that you’re doing so.

Bob June 7, 2019 9:06 AM

@War Geek

The police have no expectation of privacy while conducting official duties, and there is a First Amendment right to record them, at least in the 7th circuit. So Illinois’ 2-party consent law is null and void when it comes to recording police. Not sure about the rest of them, though.

Bardi June 7, 2019 9:09 AM

I have had, for quite a while, an app named “Mobile JusticeCA” which, automatically, sends video and audio to the local ACLU office. The app includes mechanisms to “Report” as well as “Interview” Witnesses.

I have no idea if the app works with any local ACLU office (it tests fine with the SoCal ACLU) but all my friends who are at risk run the app.

eireoldeboy June 7, 2019 10:22 AM

I’d be interested in the legal status if the recordings were being uploaded/streamed to your lawyer? I saw some posts that suggested
if you had papers/evidence (a mobile phone maybe) in a sealed envelope that is addressed to a lawyer, then the police cannot open the envelope.

Wayne June 7, 2019 10:29 AM

My problem with this is that I find Siri voice recognition to be garbage. Case in point, two weeks ago I’m driving to Phoenix and tried to get Siri to do some – what I thought – fairly basic tasks, such as changing what’s playing or giving me the distance to my next stop or whatever, through holding down my home button and giving it a command. I probably have better than 60% chance of Siri NOT doing what I tell it to do. I have to painstakingly enunciate what I want, and then MAYBE Siri will do whatever I want it to do.

I’d rather have @Sardi’s Mobil Justice app than trust Siri to get it right.

MikeA June 7, 2019 10:56 AM

More on police expectation of privacy (Or should that be “Moron Police Expectation of Privacy”):

Wherein a judge ruled that just because some police smashed all the surveillance cameras they knew about, before committing further crimes, there was a not a legitimate expectation of privacy that would allow them to exclude from evidence recordings from the ones they missed.

This was in CA, so YMMV, and as always, having your killer convicted in court is a poor substitute for not being killed in the first place. Use caution when dealing with anybody who has an expectation of immunity from prosecution.

BTW: @wiredog, your experiences apparently don’t date back to the 1960s. I assure you that white males (even straight ones) are/were not automatically immune. Especially young ones driving cheap-ass cars and with hair longer than police academy standards.

Nobody at all June 7, 2019 11:51 AM

A tool like this really needs to stream upload the recording to a remote storage site so the video is available even if the police seize or destroy the phone.

JD June 7, 2019 12:03 PM

@MikeA – @wiredog

Or your experience doesn’t extend to present day in the heart of Silicon Valley.
Where a mid 50s, white, short haired, straight male (who some acquaintances remark how I look like I could be a fed) gets harassed somewhat regularly. And that’s while I’m driving a Toyota 4Runner that’s in good shape with my little terrier dog at my side.

I’ve been straight up told I was being pulled over for things that simply did not happen, and in some cases could not have happened in our physical universe.

I mean really, I’ve even been pulled over for “honking my horn too loudly” when I hadn’t touched my stock Toyota horn.

I am always polite to LE, but when I have replied that what I have been accused of did not, or could not have happened, I have been threatened. Sometimes subtle, sometimes not. And at least twice my 15 lb. dog was threatened too. She just wants everybody to pay attention to her and is not aggressive at all.

Those pulling me over have varied, but the majority tended to have Hispanic sounding surnames.

So in my experience, what “every knows to be true” is just a bunch of bull.


A90210 June 7, 2019 3:44 PM

From the Digital Media Law Project ((dmlp) hosted by Berkman Center for Internet & Society [1]) (not https)

“… Currently, the following U.S. Courts of Appeals have recognized the First Amendment right to record the police and/or other public officials:

First Circuit (with jurisdiction over  Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Puerto Rico, and Rhode Island): see Glik v. Cunniffe, 655 F.3d 78, 85 (1st Cir. 2011) ("[A] citizen's right to film government officials, including law enforcement officers, in the discharge of their duties in a public space is a basic, vital, and well-established liberty safeguarded by the First Amendment."); Iacobucci v. Boulter, 193 F.3d 14 (1st Cir. 1999) (police lacked authority to prohibit citizen from recording commissioners in town hall "because [the citizen's] activities were peaceful, not performed in derogation of any law, and done in the exercise of his First Amendment rights[.]").

Seventh Circuit (with jurisdiction over Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin): see ACLU v. Alvarez, 679 F.3d 583, 595 (7th Cir. 2012) ("The act of making an audio or audiovisual recording is necessarily included within the First Amendment's guarantee of speech and press rights as a corollary of the right to disseminate the resulting recording.").

Ninth Circuit (with jurisdiction over Alaska, Arizona, California, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, the Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon, and Washington): see Fordyce v. City of Seattle, 55 F.3d 436, 438 (9th Cir. 1995) (assuming a First Amendment right to record the police); see also Adkins v. Limtiaco,  _ Fed. App'x _, No. 11-17543, 2013 WL 4046720 (9th Cir. Aug. 12, 2013) (recognizing First Amendment right to photograph police, citing Fordyce).

Eleventh Circuit (with jurisdiction over Alabama, Florida and Georgia): see Smith v. City of Cumming, 212 F.3d 1332, 1333 (11th Cir. 2000) ("The First Amendment protects the right to gather information about what public officials do on public property, and specifically, a right to record matters of public interest."). ..."

[1] “Welcome to the website of the Digital Media Law Project. The DMLP was a project of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society from 2007 to 2014. Due to popular demand the Berkman Klein Center is keeping the website online, but please note that the website and its contents are no longer being updated. Please check any information you find here for accuracy and completeness. ”

Also (not https)

Other misc. links ; mentioned by Bardi above (2016) (2015)

1&1~=Umm June 7, 2019 6:28 PM


“[Citation Needed]”

Apparently there are various wire tap statutes that have been argued with moderate success.

In other countries it’s a “civil offence”…

The way around it in most placed is not to make a recording as “evidenve”, but as an “aid memoir” for checking when you make your “contemporaneous written record” of the interaction.

You produce the written record in court as “evidence” if some idiot chalenges it in some way you then assure them it is accurate and that you are under oath to tell the truth. If they suggest your mind may be at fault you say “Absolutly not”, when the idiot chalenges again you can drop the hint about the tap recording and would he like to hear it as it proves you are telling the truth.

At which point the court will probably go very quiet then get quite noisy…

It’s the same sort of dirty trick prosecuters pull on defendents, so don’t feel guilty about doing it in return.

The important point is to remember above all else is “that you did not make the recording as evidence but as an aid memoir”

Because that’s currently quite legal in most places as far as I’m aware and as it was a “personal record” it does not require you to warn them either.

No One June 8, 2019 1:59 AM

You are on vacation outside Peshawar, in a taxi, going to see the ancient sites:

“Hey Siri, a fake tower just popped up!”

Tõnis June 8, 2019 10:44 AM

@No One, You are riding around anywhere in the United States. A police car drives by. “Hey Siri, a fake tower just popped up!”

Tõnis June 8, 2019 10:55 AM


“I’ve been straight up told I was being pulled over for things that simply did not happen, and in some cases could not have happened in our physical universe.”

Then you’re gonna love this one. Numerous criminals, thugs with badges in the MA State Police, were recently sentenced for stealing tens of thousands of dollars in shifts never worked and received some stiff punishments like one day in jail with time served, etc. In trying to cover up their crimes, they falsified tickets they never wrote to people who they never even stopped, because they weren’t even at work. Take a look at these criminals.

Clipper June 9, 2019 4:10 AM


The statistics you imply are plainly wrong, police are persons of all colors and their victims are persons of all colors, and if you want to go that route statistics actually work both ways.

James June 9, 2019 1:31 PM

The US is becoming a polizeistadt more and more. But at least the judicial system (that doesn’t include the police) does respect the Amendments , at least partially … While i do respect the LEOs that do their job and do remember they are paid by the taxpayers, and i understand their reticence since every moron can buy a firearm without basic background check or training, i do hate LEOs that are abusive and they believe they are above the “regular” citizen, ethnicity/skin color left aside. Some of them believe they are the law, which obviously isn’t true. So yeah, recording the police can be a good idea.

Alphonse June 9, 2019 6:10 PM

For those who worry about recording consent, I bet there’s a market for small window decals that say “Premises under audio and video surveillance”. Shouldn’t need to be very big, I’m thinking 1×2 inches and very plain, just readable to someone with normal eyesight from 2 feet away. The cop is likely to ignore it, but that’s not your fault, you’ve told him.

Irritated June 9, 2019 8:29 PM


“every moron can buy a firearm without basic background check or training”

Not in my state!

Lazza June 16, 2019 9:34 AM

I agree with @LandR. Every single time I’ve been pulled over (for routine checks) it was like:

  • ‘Morning. Driving license and car registration booklet.
  • ‘Morning. Here you go.
    [checks with the police car computer]
  • Where do you live?
  • I live in [town name].
  • OK, fine. Goodbye.
  • Goodbye.

I live in Italy and I am not going to be scared by police. Also they are not going to be scared of me, because I am a normal citizen so there is absolutely no need for me to own or carry a gun.

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