The Waze App Controversy

...or what I call the "Bunched Panty" Effect

WazeI love technology. The fact that I can read the same book on any number of devices is freaking awesome. If I forget my iPad, I can also launch my Nook app and *BAM* I can pick up where I left off.

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.


Mildly concerning from a safety standpoint…but how long will the cop be there?

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.


Most of the time, this is what you find on Waze…you know, the same thing being in public will show you.

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.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic. Snark is encouraged. Being a prat is not.

31 thoughts on “The Waze App Controversy

  1. I know quite a few cops who use it themselves. When someone tags you where you’re hiding, either click “not there” or move to a new spot. Also, if you’re driving and see a tag where there is no cop, instead of clicking “not there”, leave the tag or even give it the thumbs up… at the very least, Wazers will drive a little more responsibly in that area!

  2. I had a discussion about it yesterday. I don’t care for the feature but at the same time, knowing a cop is ahead “should” make people slow down. What I loved about my android is Google used waze info despite the fact I didn’t have the app so it would tell me where crashes were and redirect me if needed. My iphone (which I’m using until I get my android fixed) does not do that, but I’d really rather not deal with learning a new app when Google does it all for me on the android. OH but I did forget I can get the Terminator to tell about traffic via the Waze app… Hmmm.

  3. I use it to navigate Hwy 4, 242, and 680. After the fatal shooting on Hwy 4, I was able to get on Waze and communicate with other Wazers. I got home in 45 mins because of the app.
    I have never had a legit sighting based off Waze info.

  4. It has really helped me out here. We have horrible traffic (I’m just outside DC) and it has guided me around some gnarly traffic. I always mark the cops as not there, especially if its a speed trap (oh, and if I’m not driving, if I’m driving its in the cupholder and i don’t touch it)

  5. remembering the guy I got 3 times in one week at the same spot. third time he just said “I didn’t think you would be here today”. I dont think waze is going to have any effect. however our job is (was for me), traffic safety, so whatever works to slow them down.

  6. The sad part is that this app is actually useful in so many other ways beyond that. I love it for the traffic notifications more than anything else. Yes, I see the police notifications too, but I drive responsibly, so it doesn’t much matter to me if you’re sitting somewhere along my route tagging and bagging the idiots I’m forced to drive alongside.

  7. Waze is a very useful and innovative traffic app. I like it. But I do see the officer safety issue too. I wish they would turn off the cop locator. Our local traffic cops make press releases telling people where they will be handing out invitations to the criminal justice system. That’s a good thing. But we don’t need real time locations of individual officers publicized.

  8. I sat on the same stretch of 55 MPH hour roadway, writing tickets at 70 MPH for almost 3 hours. I kept getting texts from my partners that I had made it on the Waze App. I said, well obviously no one in this town uses that app. Haha

  9. I use waze. I travel a ton. It’s pretty accurate and has given me a heads up to slow down. It has saved me from getting stopped. With that said, I always click the not here button. If I work traffic (don’t worry, it’s only to find dope) I put up cop sightings to funnel the dopers to where I am.

  10. I use waze. I travel a ton. It’s pretty accurate and has given me a heads up to slow down. It has saved me from getting stopped. With that said, I always click the not here button. If I work traffic (don’t worry, it’s only to find dope) I put up cop sightings to funnel the dopers to where I am.

  11. Frankly, when I use Waze, I’m mostly concerned about traffic and less-predictable situations (eg. commute snarls and/or accidents). Having a warning for an officer only reminds me that they are “ever vigilant, and helps remind me to calm myself, and drive responsibly (also, the vast majority of the warnings are false, anyway – or, last long enough that the officer is no longer present, anyway).

  12. You wouldn’t want an apt that tags where your children are or your spouse, your Mother, your Father or any other member of your family so why pinpoint a cop who is all these things to someone. Hopefully the inaccuracies of this feature of the apt will deter people who are intent on harm from using it but why give them any help at all.
    And if you are intent on avoiding a citation from MC instead of checking the apt or tagging where the cop is or is not wouldn’t it be easier just to do the right thing. Be responsible, avoid the phone play and just drive to stay alive.
    Stay vigilant and stay safe MC and thanks.

  13. Traffic app. I commute 2+ hours a day in the bay area and without this app I’d be lost! Just Saturday I got through major traffic resulting from a shooting in 15 minutes by using waze, where it took others 2 hours! I do use the police notification and most of the other features. I really appreciate the object on road feature.

  14. I hear ya. The National Sheriffs’ Association (there, I said it so yo don’t have to) has much more important things to deal with.

  15. If you think an app is going to expose you to much …. Maybe you should relocate which is a good thing to do anyhow every so often. The app does not breed the crazies, and if they are looking to harm a cop the app won’t make a difference. On the other hand I have used it myself since its inception. Awesome traffic info and reroute, heck you can talk to it so no looking away. It uses real word info unlike the Tom Tom or Garmins. Cop info only gets in the ballpark on occasion. Vigilance is most definitely the key, must be aware.

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