New Ford Monitoring System Keeps Tabs On Cops


2013 Ford Police Interceptor concept

2013 Ford Police Interceptor concept

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Have you ever slammed on the brakes at the sight of a police car and wondered what it would be like to turn the tables on the people with the radar guns? Now, there's a new bit of technology that does just that. Ford Motor Company [NYSE:F] has announced a new telematics system for police cars that will keep tabs on the cops while they drive, tracking their behavior in real time.

Developed in collaboration with California-based technology company Telogis, the system can tell what speed police officers are traveling at, and whether they're wearing seat belts. Ford says this will allow departments to more effectively promote safe driving, noting that crashes are the number one cause of officer fatalities.

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Based on the Crew Chief system Ford already offers to fleet buyers, the system can monitor multiple vehicle parameters, including lateral acceleration, spins, throttle and braked pedal position, and whether anti-lock braking, traction control, or stability control were triggered. Agencies can get individual "scorecards" of their officers' driving behavior based on these metrics.

While this does put officers under constant scrutiny, the system is intended to help police departments spot and correct patterns of bad driving behavior early including, for example, cracking down on minor infractions such as speeding or turning on a car's flashers to run through a red light while not in a chase.

The Los Angeles Police Department is already using the system on some of its vehicles, and it will be available to other police agencies in 2015.

This is yet another example of how the massive amounts of data new cars are capable of collecting can not only be used to help a driver, but also to tattle on his or her bad habits. Earlier this year, Chevrolet announced the new Corvette Stingray Performance Data Recorder, which includes a Valet Mode that allows owners to record video of valet drivers. It's already run afoul of wiretapping laws in certain states, because audio recordings could potentially be made without a person's knowledge.

The Ford system doesn't record what's going on inside a police car's cabin, but it may still make some officers uneasy knowing that they're being watched.

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