The nationwide police PR exploitation of the tragic deaths of Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos continues apace. As we have already noted here before, the number of police who are killed by citizens wielding firearms is exceedingly low in the United States (especially as compared to the number of citizens who are shot by the police), and much lower than the incidence of officer deaths due to, for instance, not wearing seat belts while on the job. However, that has not stopped police departments from using the highly publicized deaths of Liu and Ramos to aid their pushes for increased budgets for body armor and yet more military equipment for cops or to deflect attention from the fact that cops really aren’t held accountable in any meaningful sense in officer-involved shootings.
Now, they are going after Google’s popular app Waze, trying to get Google to shut down the feature that allows people to avoid speed traps. For those who have never used Waze and do not know how it exists, it functions essentially the same as Google’s maps navigating app, except that it has several crowd sourced functions built in. If you, as a Waze user, spot a wreck or some construction that can help explain some traffic, you can flag it and other Waze users will see and notify it. Depending on how heavily populated your metro area is with Waze users, it can be a tremendously useful repository of real-time information about driving conditions along your pre-planned route and can suggest alternate ways around traffic problems.
One of the other functions Waze offers is that if you see a cop setting a speed trap, you can flag that as well, so that other Waze users who are coming down the interstate can be notified of it in advance. In the investigation of the shootings of Liu and Ramos, it was determined that Ismaaiyl Brinsley, the gunman, was a Waze user. Using this flimsiest of pretexts, police departments are now publicly urging Google to have this feature removed from the Waze app.
Problematically, the investigation into the shootings of Liu and Ramos has concluded that Brinsley did NOT use Waze to locate and/or target Liu and Ramos. This brings the total of officers who have been targeted by miscreants using Waze for violent acts to zero. Absolutely none.
However, while Waze is NOT being used to target cops for violent acts, it IS being used to avoid revenue-generating speed traps.
It’s insulting to both our intelligence and to the memories of officers Liu and Ramos that their deaths are being used in a pretext this weak and flimsy to maximize the efficiency of speed traps. There is no reason for Google to respond to this nonsense in any way other than politely telling the police departments in question to come back when they’ve put together a story that passes the laugh test.