Google's version of a radar detector is under fire from law enforcement groups.
Waze is billed as a hybrid GPS and social networking app. Users can log
on and share information about, among other things, weather conditions,
traffic patterns, road conditions and speed traps in Kern County. At the
recent winter meeting of the National Sheriffs Association, officers referred
to Waze as an
"officer-stalking" app that could help potential evildoers target helpless peace officers.
Some pointed to the case of Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who posted a Waze screenshot
on his Instagram account along with threatening messages directed at NYPD
officers. But, according to investigators, Mr. Brinsley discarded his
cell phone two miles from the place where he shot two policemen, and there
is no other evidence that anyone has used Waze to target peace officers.
Nonetheless, one officer in Southern California is concerned that "it
is only a matter of time" before tragedy strikes and I think we all
share his concern that technology can be used in such horrible ways.
But in most situations, the underlying objection to Waze may be that motorists
will slow down if they believe officers are present, thus depriving the
state of needed revenue. Traffic tickets raise an estimated
$4.5 billion per year, and speeding tickets in particular may be more about money for
Tulare County than they are about keeping the roads safe.
There is some
evidence that unmanned radar signs may reduce speeds more than an officer writing
a ticket. Instead of fighting Waze, perhaps traffic officers should post
their locations. If a virtual traffic cop can reduce speeding while the
real traffic cops focuses on more urgent situations, so much the better.
It's important to note that individual officers are not responsible
for this situation. They have a job to do, just like the rest of us and
they oftentimes risk their neck to do it well. Instead, it is the system
that puts revenue ahead of safety by continuing to refuse to put in adequate
cool down lanes, passing lanes, middle dividers and other construction
(that costs money) while instead focusing on artificially low speed limit
enforcement in places such as interstates that normally have lower accident
rates per mile driven.