One of Waze’s most popular features — that warns users when police are nearby — could be disabled if sheriffs have their way. They say it’s allowing miscreants to stalk law enforcement officers.
Waze was purchased by Google for almost $1 billion in 2013, and its combination of GPS and social networking has managed to connect 50 million users during their commute. One of the great features is the ability for users to mark police presence on the app, to warn other drivers that police are running speed traps.
According to the Associated Press, police are complaining that Waze is an app that could provide would-be cop-killers a map to their location.
“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 in Virginia, who also serves as the chairman of the National Sheriffs Association technology committee.
According to the AP there are no known connections between attacks on police and Waze. Nevertheless, the National Sheriff’s Association doesn’t want to be too careful.
Brown raised the issue during a meeting of the National Sheriff’s Association winter conference in Washington today. Last month, Ismaaiyl Brinsley was accused of killing two NYPD officers. Ismaaiyl posted a screenshot from Waze on his Instagram account, along with threats to police officers in general. Investigations didn’t show that he used Waze to find the two officers he shot, because he got rid of his smartphone two miles before he shot the two officers.
It’s not the first time apps have been in law enforcement’s crosshairs. Trapster was an app that specifically tracked the location of speed traps, but it also had a function that tracked field sobriety test locations. Police organizations lobbied Apple to remove the app from the Apple Store until the function was disabled.