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Law-enforcement safety concerns prompt call for Google to disable Waze app’s police tracking feature




LAPD Chief Charlie Beck addresses the media at Police Headquarters in Los Angeles, California on October 20, 2014.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck addresses the media at Police Headquarters in Los Angeles, California on October 20, 2014.
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

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If you’ve ever used Google’s GPS app “Waze” to help you get around, you’ve probably seen the feature it has that notifies you when a police officer has been reported along a roadway. Some members of the law-enforcement community are concerned that this feature could pose a safety threat to law-enforcement officers, and are urging Google to turn off that feature.

Waze combines social networking with GPS to inform users of traffic congestion in real time. Users can also report in when they see a police officer on the road and specify whether the officer was visible or hidden, and then other users can then confirm or deny that officer’s existence at that location. For drivers, it sounds like a great way to make sure you don’t get pulled over (assuming user reports are accurate), but for others in the policing community, it’s no more than a way for would-be criminals to stalk police activity. Even LAPD Chief Charlie Beck has weighed in on the issue, writing a letter to Google’s CEO at the end of December saying that the app could be “misused by those with criminal intent to endanger police officers and the community.”

Guests:

Tim Williams, founder of TT Williams Investigations, a private investigation firm in Los Angeles; Retired LAPD Senior Detective Supervisor (Robbery-Homicide Division), 1974-2003; Expert on police procedure and use-of-force for state and federal court

Commander Andy Smith, Media Relations and Community Affairs Group, LAPD

Philip Stinson, Assistant Professor, Criminal Justice Program, Bowling Green State University in Ohio. He is a former police officer.