There are times when the panic-stricken alarmism, blindness, and ignorance of people surprise me. But, to be honest, I am never surprised by anything the police say. Their most recent bit of scaremongering concerns the GPS app Waze. Apparently, some sheriffs are losing sleep over the fact that the Waze app allows users to notify other drivers when and where a police car is lying in wait beside the roadway:
To Sergio Kopelev, a reserve deputy sheriff in Southern California, Waze is also a stalking app for law enforcement.
There are no known connections between any attack on police and Waze, but law enforcers such as Kopelev are concerned it’s only a matter of time. . . .
Waze users mark police presence on maps without much distinction other than “visible” or “hidden.” Users see a police icon, but it’s not immediately clear whether police are there for a speed trap, a sobriety check or a lunch break. The police generally are operating in public spaces.
Right. I’m sure this has nothing at all to do with the fact that Waze neutralizes the police’s ability to generate revenue from speeders. Let’s bring a little bit of common sense to this discussion. If someone were wanting to attack policemen who were hanging out on the side of the road in a marked police car, they wouldn’t need Waze. They could just drive down the road, see a police car, and attack its occupants.
Furthermore, the fear that Waze would be used by robbers and other criminals to track police is ridiculous. Waze is entirely ineffective to “track” patrolling police cars. The only reason it works is because certain police officers “post up” for an extended period of time in a single location (usually outside of clear eyeshot for oncoming traffic). These are commonly called speed traps. Waze effectively protects you from speed traps. That’s about it.
I have a sense that these “fears” are nothing more than a smokescreen. Federal courts have already made it clear that “tipping off” other drivers to police presence (e.g., by flashing your brights) is perfectly legal. I have written before about the consequences of such rulings for apps like Waze. Waze is just a different version of flashing your brights, and I honestly hope it becomes more popular. The police need to stop raising revenue off of generally law-abiding traffic violators, and start doing more of what we pay them to do: protect us from actually dangerous criminals. I don’t think they are doing that by lying in wait beside busy highways. Just saying.