Ford Motors 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 idea is that accountability will lead to better and safer driving behavior.
“From a business standpoint, these are expensive vehicles with expensive employees driving them,” says Bryan Vila, a WSU professor in criminal justice and criminology who researches police performance issues. Vila spent 17 years as a law 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,” he said. “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 it’s safe, or not, and whether it’s legal, or not.”