I'm sure everyone reading this joins me in wanting our police officers to be safe, and there's no denying that violent criminals are targeting our men and women in blue in a way we haven't seen since the early 1970's.
But attacking Waze and somehow connecting the app to increased danger for cops isn't just a bit of Hollywood hyperbole, it's blatantly dishonest.
The only real danger is to the city's municipal wallet.
First, let's clarify what the Waze app actually does: Its intention is to show where police officers are very openly operating with the intention of warning drivers about likely "speed traps." The app thus gives drivers a head's up that they should slow down and drive as safely as possible in those areas.
And isn't safer driving something the LAPD and all of law enforcement wants, too? Don't cops and police patrol cars display themselves very publicly with the intent of warning drivers to be more careful?
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Let's take off any temporary blinders we might be wearing and all admit the clear truth: Sure safety is a concern, but the real reason police departments and local governments don't want drivers alerted to police car locations ahead of time is because that can absolutely cut into speeding ticket and driving violation revenue.
We don't know just how much Waze and other apps like it are reducing that incoming cash — if at all. But we do know that speeding tickets generate $6.3 billion in revenue nationwide each year. Police departments and local governments rely on that money and Waze is definitely a threat to that. The fact that the app also makes people drive more safely is clearly not all that important to Chief Beck and his peers.
We all agree that dangerous speeders should be punished. And we want our law-enforcement departments to be adequately funded. But are speeding-ticket shakedowns the right way to do it? And when a public safety policy starts acting more like a government cash cow with little regard for actual safety, then we should all have a problem. None of this is a secret to most American drivers who have known for decades that this is exactly the way it is.
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A similar obvious hard truth has been "exposed" in the fight against red-light cameras nationwide. Even most politicians freely admit the increase in red-light camera installations over the past decade has been mostly about boosting revenues. And armed with that knowledge, several citizen activist groups have successfully been able to remove many of the cameras in cities and towns across the country. Speed-trap cameras that were being used in school zones even when schools were out were recently disabled on Long Island, NY, after similar protests.
In other words, the people have spoken… and the people are winning. Every once in a while, the politicians get reminded that they work for the public, not the other way around.
But with the kind of dire warnings people like Chief Beck are using in California, the fight to keep the Waze app intact may be tougher. And with the recent spate of cop killings and anti-cop threats, tech companies and politicians will have a harder time pushing back.
And there's the real shame. Instead of circling the wagons to protect speed traps, the government and the private sector should be working to help keep us all safer.
Using the memories of murdered cops to promote anything else is a disgrace to their memories.