Sheriffs around the nation want Google and Waze to stop tracking their whereabouts. A feature in Waze allows users to report on traffic accidents or other traffic slowdowns, but also allows for users to report where police might be stationed. According to law enforcement officials, that presents a danger to them. The existing feature shows where a police officer might be located, but doesn’t report why they are there. Sheriffs are even going so far as to call Waze a “police stalker” app.
“The police community needs to coordinate an effort to have the owner, Google, act like the responsible corporate citizen they have always been and remove this feature from the application even before any litigation or statutory action” said Sheriff Mike Brown of Bedford County, Virginia. Jim Pasco, Executive Director of the Fraternal Order of Police, said “I can think of 100 ways that it could present an officer-safety issue. There’s no control over who uses it. So, if you’re a criminal and you want to rob a bank, hypothetically, you use your Waze.”
Again, the feature is crowd-sourced info, and allows no mention of why the Police are there. It’s as simple as seeing a Police officer, and reporting in in-app. Users don’t provide info about their interaction or lack thereof.
The benefit to Waze’s reporting features easily outreach the potential harm to Police officers. As you can see in Waze’s official video below, identifying where police are for the purpose of not speeding is a purpose of the feature, not stalking officers.
It’s easy to see why law enforcement is concerned about Waze, but it’s likely misguided fear rather than grounded proaction. Waze users help each other find new routes due to accidents, avoid silly tickets (yes, speeding tickets are often unnecessary), and connect in a new way — not find law enforcement officials to harm them. If anything, Waze’s features are meant to help users avoid the Police.
Source: The Associated Press