Ask Officer Michelle – Officers Using Cellphones While Driving

Posted by cyd evans

I saw an officer talking on a cell phone while driving a marked car yesterday. Don’t the same rules apply to police officers as the general public regarding only using hands free devices?

Dear cyd evans,

Police officers are to abide by the same rules of the road as citizens. However, there are some exceptions to these rules – for instance, when talking on a cell phone while driving, California Vehicle Code Section 23123 (d). This section does not apply to an emergency services professional using a wireless telephone while operating an authorized emergency vehicle, as defined in Section 165, in the course and scope of his or her duties. This translates to, if the officer is using the phone for official business then this law applies. If they are talking to their spouse about non-police business for example, then they are in the wrong.

Police do a lot of business on their cell phones, and our cars are like our offices. We use the computers and cell phones for every call for service. We coordinate with other units, with dispatch, records, get additional information from victims, talk to citizens, Deputy District Attorneys, supervisors, and coordinate with outside agencies all on the cell phone. Thank you for your post.

Officer Michelle

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February 5, 2012 | 2:46 PM

The fact that your car is like your office and you do this a lot makes it worse not better, and is a strong argument for police cars to be fitted with hands-free kits so that you don’t need to use a hand to dial and hold the phone.

February 5, 2012 | 8:32 PM

There’s no legitimate reason that police should be allowed to do things that others aren’t if it isn’t an absolutely necessary function of the job. Police officers are citizens and must obey the rule of law that is supposed to be governing our country. The fact that police are allowed to use cell phones while driving is just one example of the fact that police follow a different set of rules than the rest of us and face little consequence for crimes they do commit. Occasionally the police community is forced to throw an officer into the volcano for something he got caught doing, but they do their best to sweep as many crimes under the rug as possible – they need funding and can’t risk bad publicity.

“My car is my office” isn’t a valid excuse for breaking the law. Speeding isn’t any less dangerous because your car has a spinning light on top of it and assault shouldn’t be given a lighter penalty because it was done in the line of duty. If rights allowed by the government is a measure of one’s freedom, then common Americans are second-rate citizens behind police. But no one brings this up because all police have to do is mention 9/11 and everyone shuts up. Oh right, 9/11, go ahead and put the boot back on my head.

Being a police officer is a difficult, dangerous, stressful job. And no one likes them. When people see police, they don’t feel respect, nor do they feel safe. The initial reaction when someone sees a police officer is to feel threatened, even if they haven’t done anything wrong. I don’t blame the police, but it isn’t right. Is living in a state of fear the same as living in “the best country in the world” or “the land of the free”? Or is it how Chinese people feel when they say something bad about their government and then immediately regret their comment for fear of being thrown in prison?

It’s not complicated. Police are allowed to talk on phone while they drive because we live in a police state. We live in a culture of ignorance and complacency that won’t notice its freedoms until they are long gone. This may sound dramatic for something like talking on the phone while driving, but government restriction is like a zip-tie. It only tightens one way and there’s only one way to get rid of it.

Avatar of P W
February 6, 2012 | 4:33 PM

Your prose is fraught with cons.

February 6, 2012 | 7:41 AM

Hey Shmo….I think you missed the officer’s point. It is a tool, and the officers use it as such. You’re just pissed off that you can’t. I would want the police to do everything they could and all the tools that they have to help them with their duties. Judging from your rant, you just have a problem with authority in general. I’ll be willing to bet that you would be the first to call 911 if you were being victimized….

February 6, 2012 | 1:42 PM

I can’t count on one hand how many times I’ve personally been guilty of a driving infraction and thought I was about to be pulled over only to see that the police officer was too busy talking on his cell phone to even notice me breaking the law. Score!

February 6, 2012 | 2:57 PM

I am fine with officers talking on the phone. How many officer involved accidents included the officer being on the phone? I think we have bigger things to worry about.

April 10, 2012 | 1:20 PM

I bet it’s more often than we think.

February 6, 2012 | 3:22 PM

Why aren’t they required to use a hands-free device such as bluetooth like the rest of us? If they know they’re going to be doing business from their car then they should have a bluetooth for such calls/tasks.

jack borer
February 26, 2014 | 11:50 PM

Good hope they crash. Idiot cops.

March 3, 2014 | 9:36 AM

I would assume that Police Departments provide all necessary communication tools to their Officers. Use of a person cell while driving is illegal.
Use of a personal phone for government business is inappropriate and unnecessary.

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