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Local law enforcement speak out against Waze

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Google’s app, Waze, has become well known recently due to the fact that it enables law enforcement officers' locations to be known to all who use the app. Law enforcement officers around the country and right here in Madison County are wondering if the app poses a threat to their lives. According to Waze’s website, the app was created to contribute to the common good on the road. It connects drivers to one another and allows them to create local driving communities to improve the quality of everyone’s daily driving. This could mean helping drivers avoid traffic, alerting drivers about a police trap or showing drivers new routes. How it works is that users can share road reports on accidents, police traps or any other hazards along the way, helping to give other users in the area a heads-up. The Waze app concerns both Madison County Sheriff Ben Stewart and Madison Police Department Interim Chief Willie McGhee now that there is the feature that allows police tracking. “It’s a safety issue for the police officers,” said Sheriff Stewart. “The app could have been used for a good thing but it is being used for crimes.” “While the app may have started out as a good tool to avoid traffic, since they have added the police locating feature, it is allowing people to avoid officers and speed rather than slow down,” said Chief McGhee. National Sheriff’s Association has also been speaking out against the police locator feature within the Waze app but state they are supportive of the Waze app in general. “Our number one concern is officer safety,” said the National Sheriff’s Association. “We agree that if a person is intent on harming an officer they could do it without the app. The question becomes, why put a tool in their hand that aids them in locating law enforcement? Our second concern is community safety. There is evidence that shows that drunk drivers use the app to avoid law enforcement, meaning they then put public safety at risk by drinking and driving, knowing they can drive an alternate route to miss DUI/DWI checkpoints or an officer on duty.”

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