Metro agencies monitoring Waze app as it draws criticism from police across the country

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A GPS app for your smartphone is drawing criticism from some law enforcement agencies across the United States. The biggest complaint is that it allows users to pinpoint the location of officers.

The app is called Waze. It was bought by Google in 2013 for nearly $1 billion. While its main selling point is outsmarting traffic, it does give users the ability to tell others exactly where police officers are.

"As technology changes we have to change the way we do things as well," explained Lieutenant Will Akin.

Lt. Akin is with the Clay County Sheriff's Office, one of the more social media savvy departments in the metro. When asked about the Waze app, Lt. Akin clearly sees both sides.

"The pluses would be people who use the app, they can identify places where there's been collision, accident, something like that that could potentially reroute traffic," Lt. Akin said.

But considering the public scrutiny law enforcement has been under in the wake of officer involved deaths across the country and the murder of two NYPD officers, Lt. Akin understands why some departments want Google to disable part of the app.

"I can see the dark side. If you're going to identify law enforcement's location through something like that, I can only think of the unthinkable," Lt. Akin explained.

That's where safety issue comes into play, but not just for officers.

"It's identifying where they are at and it doesn't only put us at risk, it puts the people at risk that we are trying to help as well," Lt. Akin said.

The sheriff's office uses Twitter and Facebook to put out information about traffic issues, and they are constantly looking for ways to engage with their followers. They know people won't stop using Waze because it can be beneficial, but want everyone to know it's definitely on their radar.

"People are also going to be watching that to find out where we are at, and if people have ill intentions then they're going to use that for again the dark side," Lt. Akin said.

The most outspoken departments are on the east and west coasts. So far Google hasn't responded to requests to disable the app. Here in the metro, Clay County as well as other agencies are well aware of the app. They say they'll monitor it and many others as they normally do.