NEW YORK (AP) – The New York Police Department wants the navigation app Waze to stop warning drivers about sobriety checkpoints.
But Waze says the app shows “general police presence” and not DWI checkpoints specifically.
The dispute centers on a feature that shows drivers a mustachioed cartoon officer at locations where other Waze users have spotted police.
The NYPD sent a letter to Waze’s parent company Google last weekend warning that people who post the locations of DWI checkpoints “may be engaging in criminal conduct.”
The letter from Ann Prunty, acting deputy commissioner for legal matters, says the department has become aware that Waze “currently permits the public to report DWI checkpoints throughout New York City and map these locations on the application.” It demands that Google “immediately remove this function from the Waze application.”
Waze said in a statement Thursday that it believes highlighting police presence “promotes road safety” because people drive more carefully when they know there are officers nearby.
Waze added, “There is no separate functionality for reporting police speed traps and DUI/DWI checkpoints – the Waze police icon represents general police presence.”
Google has faced pressure to remove the officer-locating function before. Former Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck complained in December 2014 that Waze could be “misused by those with criminal intent to endanger police officers and the community.”
And the National Sheriffs’ Association warned in 2015 that the app could hamper the use of speed traps and put the public at risk.