Ford gives police chiefs tech to surveil officers in their own cars

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Police officers certainly have a difficult job in keeping the streets safe, but as public employees in positions of authority, there is still a very real need for oversight. To that end, Ford is partnering with a tech company to offer a new system called Ford Telematics for Law Enforcement on its line of Police Interceptor patrol vehicles that could make cops safer, while giving cities a better idea of what its officers are doing.

The system streams live data about cruisers back to the home base to people like the police chief or shift supervisor. That info includes expected things like speed, location and cornering acceleration, but it gets incredibly granular as well, with records of things like if emergency lights are on, or even if an officer is wearing a seatbelt.

Ford Telematics for Law Enforcement “ought to protect officers as much as it protects the public,” said Ford spokesperson Chris Terry to Autoblog. Constantly monitoring patrol cars offers cities a lot of advantages, too. First, it reduces potential liability because a department can prove where each vehicle is at all times. Also, officers know they are being watched and may potentially drive more safely.

As a potential example of the system improving officer safety, according to the chairman of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund in Ford’s release, traffic accidents have been the leading cause of police fatalities in 14 of the last 16 years. A separate study from the group found that around half of the officers who died in a crash weren’t wearing a seatbelt. Through monitoring, this solution might go some way toward mitigating that tragic figure.

All Ford Police Interceptor models can be ordered with the telematics system now, and according to Ford’s Terry, the Los Angeles Police Department is already showing interest in acquiring it. To be clear, Ford doesn’t have access to any of this data from municipalities; the automaker is simply offering the equipment as an option for departments to use

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