TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT: Waze, police battle over cop-spotting feature

Feb. 2, 2015

Opponents argue the app feature puts police lives in danger

Crowdsourced traffic app Waze has come under fire from police forces across the country for a feature that lets drivers report when they’ve spotted an officer on the roadways. Several law enforcement organizations are calling for the app to remove the feature completely, citing safety of their officers.

Waze, owned by Google, allows drivers to notify each other via smartphone of various road-related items, from accidents and traffic jams to traffic cameras and gas prices. Reports are sent via text or e-mail, and occurrences are noted on the in-app map. The idea is for drivers—and city officials—to see traffic problems unfold in real-time so they can be addressed just as quickly.

Opponents of the police-tracking feature say, however, that providing real-time notification of officers’ whereabouts could put them in danger.  Waze said in a statement that it believes the feature has done good things, and that some police officers have said the feature makes people drive more cautiously when they know police are nearby.

The deputy executive director of the National Sheriffs’ Association has requested a meeting with Waze to discuss the feature and the possibility of having it removed from the app.

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