I can also stay connected to social media (which I usually enjoy, but doesn’t dominate my life), have conversations via text or Facebook Messenger with friends and family the world over.
Recently, the Wife told me about Waze, a traffic app that updates traffic in real-time by other users (Wazers?!). When I leave work, I can hop on Waze and send the Wife an ETA on my arrival at MCPD. Waze will let me know if there are collisions up ahead or if traffic is heavy. It can also suggest alternate routes.
There is one feature, however, that seems to have some LEOs in a tizzy: the Police feature…and it’s got some folks all twisted around the axle.
This feature allows a user to drop a pin where a police officer is. It could be collision related. It could be a traffic stop. It could be where the officer is “hiding”. There are those that see it as an officer safety issue and are asking Google, the owners of Waze, to remove that functionality. The concern is that if people know where an officer is, the officer may become the target for violence.
Now, I’m not saying that isn’t a distinct possibility, because it absolutely is.
What I am saying, however, is that the probability is abysmal. I’ve been using Waze for months now. Do you know how many times it’s been accurate when it says a cop is “up ahead”?
The onus has long been on us, the coppers, to dutifully remove our domes from our collective murky, pungent orifices and be aware of our surroundings. Ambush killings of cops seem to be on the rise, but not one of them has had anything to do with Waze.
And do I care if people know I’m “hiding”? Nope. They restock the lake every day, if not every hour. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been told on a traffic stop, “I know you sit there!” And they still speed. My productivity is not in jeopardy in the slightest.
The bottom line is this:
If some wingnut wants to kill cops, he’s gonna find a way to do it. The odds of him using an unreliable app like Waze to target us are minuscule at best.
The aforementioned wingnut would have better luck sitting at a coffee shop and waiting for us to come in. Have we asked Starbucks, Peets, and [insert local caffeine pusher here] to close down?
Of course not…because it’s silly.
So, instead of getting our collective panties in a wad, what say we double our efforts in reminding our people to be alert at all times. What say we don’t sit on the side of the road and watch the latest Orange is the New Black episode on the phone? What say our supervisors and the Powers That Be lead by example and create a culture of confident and capable cops instead of trying to make headlines by bitching at Google?
We are out in public. We aren’t like those DUI ads where the cops all blend into the background. It’s a dangerous gig…we all know that. Take the appropriate steps to be aware of your surroundings and you’ll have a much better chance of avoiding an ambush…Waze app or not.