5 Nov 2014

Ford Police Cruisers Now Tattle When Cops Drive Like Jerks

Everyone’s seen a cop driving like a jerk: Double parking and blocking traffic. Cruising down the highway way beyond the speed limit, with no suspect to run down. Blatantly texting while driving. Pulling the old turn-on-the-siren-just-long-enough-to-run-the-red-light trick. And for anyone who’s fantasized about making a citizen’s arrest of one of their city’s finest, police departments soon will be able to track how their cops are driving, and when they’re behaving badly.
Ford has created a way for law enforcement bosses to see where their subordinates go and track how they’re driving. Fifty Los Angeles Police Department cruisers have been outfitted with transmitters that send officers’ driving information to their supervisors, and can even tell if the boys in blue are wearing seat belts. The system is a joint effort by Ford and California software firm Telogis, and designed for the Police Interceptor models of the Explorer and Taurus. The idea is that accountability will lead to better and safer driving behavior. Auto insurance companies have been doing the same thing for years.
“From a business standpoint, these are expensive vehicles with expensive employees driving them,” says Bryan Vila, a professor and researcher at Washington State University. He also spent 17 years as an officer, including nine with the LA County sheriff. “When they crash, they’re also more likely to kill bystanders and civilians, so there’s a public safety side. I’ve been looking forward to seeing the LAPD implementing this.”
Police organizations have been ramping up education about the risks of driving fast, but Vila, having spent time with a badge and gun, understands the urge to ignore those lessons. “If you’re a young cop and someone gives you a fast car to drive, there’s a lot of temptation to do it,” Vila says. “Whether its safe, or not, and whether it’s legal, or not.”
Ford Telematics for Law Enforcement lets police departments see if their officers are giving in to those temptations. The system knows if the light bar is turned on, and measures the speed of the car against the limit. It looks for hard braking and sudden acceleration. It sees when the car spins and when the anti-lock braking system is engaged. Unlike conventional black boxes for cars, it can transmit data in real-time. And if the airbags deploy, dispatchers will see it and know to send backup immediately.

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