The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has raised serious concerns over the use of the real-time traffic and tracking application Waze, saying it jeopardizes the lives of police officers by revealing their locations.
“I am confident your company did not intend the Waze app to be a means to allow those who wish to commit crimes to use the unwitting Waze community as their lookouts for the location of police officers,” LAPD Chief Charlie Beck wrote to Google, which owns Waze, according to a copy of a letter acquired by the Los Angeles Times.
Beck noted that in the days before Ismaaiyl Brinsley murdered NYPD Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu on Dec. 20, he had used the widely popular navigation app to track and monitor police movements.
Beck’s letter to Google was sent ten days later, and one month before the National Sheriff’s Association held its Winter Conference in Washington, D.C.
During the conference, Sheriff Mike Brown of Bedford County, Virginia said he believed it was only a matter a time before Waze would be used to to hunt down and harm police, according to the Associated Press. The AP reports that he called on Google to remove the police locator feature on the app, citing potential lawsuits if some sort of agreement is not made:
The police community needs to coordinate an effort to have the owner, Google, act like the responsible corporate citizen they have always been and remove this feature from the application even before any litigation or statutory action.
Waze has about 2 million users in Greater Los Angeles, and more than 50 million users worldwide, according to the Times.
Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter: @AdelleNaz.