Waze'd and Confused

Why are companies like Google offering the Waze app through their online app stores, without any regard for officer safety? It's hard to get a straight answer.

M M Jon Adler 21 1

Thanks to the patriots at Google Inc., Apple, and Microsoft, terrorists and cop killers can now use Waze, a community-based traffic and navigation app from Waze Mobile, to target the locations of officers in police vehicles.

The Waze app advises motorists as to the specific location of a law enforcement vehicle monitoring highway traffic. In most instances, an officer monitoring traffic is alone in a police radio car, in a static position, and vulnerable to an ambush. In other words, a "cop in a barrel."

Why are companies like Google offering the Waze app through their online app stores, without any regard for officer safety? It's hard to get a straight answer.

Despite repeated requests from the National Sheriff's Association (NSA) for a meeting with Google, the giant high-tech company has not responded. In support of the NSA and all federal, state, and local police, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA) also sent a letter to Google's CEO Larry Page, addressing the officer safety concerns. At presstime it had been met with total silence.

A representative from Waze Mobile attempted to defend the company's app and stated in a June 5 Washington Times article, "Police partners support Waze and its features, including reports of police presence, because most users tend to drive more carefully when they believe law enforcement is nearby." Now let's all open the dictionary and look up the word "delusional," and we'll see her statement.

If you view the home page of Waze's Website (www.waze.com), you will see the true intentions of the Waze app. A statement on the site reads: "Imagine millions of drivers out on the roads, working together toward a common goal: to outsmart traffic and get everyone the best route to work and back. Get alerted before you approach police, accidents, road hazards, or traffic jams." So their goal, in effect, is to "outsmart traffic," by alerting motorists in advance of approaching police. What does the Waze representative think reckless drivers will do once they pass the police vehicle? Have a reckoning and drive safely?

I understand the value of sharing information regarding traffic jams, accidents, and construction, but using an app to identify the precise location of a law enforcement vehicle is potentially perilous for police officers. In an attempt to proffer a compromise, FLEOA suggested that Waze expand the location coverage to a more-than-five-mile radius. This would prevent terrorists from pinpointing the exact location of a police radio car for an ambush and would cause motorists to slow down for a greater distance. Unfortunately, Waze has not responded.

As NSA Executive Director Jonathan Thompson stated in his letter to Google, ambushes were the number one cause of officer felonious fatalities in 2014. The Waze app presents a real officer safety concern for us, and terrorists are rational opportunists when it comes to attacking law enforcement. They could attack a static vehicle position from multiple angles, using either a ruse or brute force. Does Waze's purported goal of "outsmarting traffic" outweigh the safety of officers?

As the NSA says, ambushes are a huge threat to officers. Massachusetts Institute of Technology officer Sean Collier was ambushed in his police vehicle after the Boston Marathon bombing. NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were ambushed while parked in a department radio car. And we recently learned that a suspected terrorist that the Boston PD stopped was planning to decapitate law enforcement officers. In New York, the Joint Terrorism Task Force arrested two terrorist suspects, one of whom was actively planning to attack law enforcement officers.

Do Waze and the tech giants like Apple that offer the Waze app to the public think helping some reckless driver avoid a speeding ticket is worth more than the safety of officers vulnerable to an ambush?

Supporters of the Waze app may argue that it's law enforcement's job to be visible, and a known police presence empowers community safety. This position is faulty when viewed naively out of context. Law enforcement visibility is achieved best through mobile vehicle and foot patrols that keep communities and officers safe.

The Waze app only serves to empower reckless drivers and people who would surprise and attack officers. The law enforcement community cannot condone an app that creates a "cop in a barrel" who can be easily attacked by cop killers and terrorists.

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