NEW YORK, NY Cops to Google: Scrap the app.
Sergeants Benevolent Association head Edward Mullins sent a letter to Google CEO Larry Page Tuesday demanding the company disable a feature of the mobile app Waze that lets users track real-time locations of police.
The Waze app operates like a GPS navigation tool and permits users to note the locations of parked police vehicles, accidents, congestion, traffic cameras — and cops. Other drivers using the app are then warned on a map.
The police icon appears on the map as a cartoonish officer with a mustache wearing a blue hat. When a user clicks on the cop, the lapsed time since the icon was posted pops up on the screen.
“In using technology like Waze to publish or disseminate information, Google must recognize that the police icon is just a tool that, like any other, can be used for good or bad purposes,” Mullins states in the letter.
Mullins also threatened legal action in the letter and demanded a meeting with Google officials within the next 10 days.
In a telephone interview, Mullins pointed out that killer Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28, had the app on his phone Dec. 20 when he executed two cops.
Police have said they believe the madman randomly found Officers Wenjian Liu, 32, and Rafael Ramos, 40, in Brooklyn before fatally shooting both of them and then himself.
“I don’t know if he was going to use the app and I’m not casting aspersions on Google for that,” Mullins said. “But how could they not know the atmosphere this creates by keeping it out there?”
Mullins isn’t the first to point out the possible dangers the app presents to cops. The National Sheriffs’ Association previously pointed out the app could put cops in danger. The trade organization recently criticized Google’s software as hampering the use of speed traps.
Google officials didn’t return an email or phone message seeking comment.