cops + cell phones

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jjoyce
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cops + cell phones

Postby jjoyce » Mon Aug 23, 2010 10:30 am

Anybody else seeing this more often? Seems like every time I roll up next to a squad car, the officer driving is talking on a mobile phone. I understand that this is the way stuff gets done now, but what's the protocol (maybe Walter can help out here)? What percentage of business is conducted on radios vs. cell phones?

Also, now that we know using your phone behind the wheel is much like driving drunk, is this how we want our officers working? Are they able to operate their vehicles and be as watchful as necessary if they're also on the phone?

Walter
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Re: cops + cell phones

Postby Walter » Mon Aug 23, 2010 1:14 pm

I don't know what percentage other cops use their phones for on duty calls but mine is nearly zero. I also dislike the way it looks when they are being used when driving just like you do Jason. I also think it diverts attention away from keeping aware of the surrounding activity when on patrol.

It is common to have people who call to report things who only want contact by phone or there is a suspect you would like to try to contact and all you have is a phone number. In those cases, I go to the station and make the call because I don't like using my personal phone for that. I don't want my number in the hands of someone I don't know. I'm an old dog and I can't remember how to block the number. I don't trust myself to remember to block it and unblock it every time either, even if I could remember how to do it.

If I have to make a personal call, I pull off the road somewhere out of the way and make it. The same goes with any call I have to make to dispatch or another officer. Mainly I do this because someone walking or driving by doesn't know why I'm making the call and it might look like I'm just chatting away instead of working. I operate in a fishbowl and act accordingly. Some people don't.

I rarely use my phone for business or personal reasons. It's in the car in case I need it and I never carry it on my person. If it gets lost or damaged, the City will say "sucks to be you" because it's my own phone. The City only gives cellphones to Detectives, Sergeants, and above. Maybe I'm just passive-aggressive but it rubs me the wrong way to use my phone for City business and not get any reimbursement or coverage for it.

I use my phone to list a runaway or stolen car with dispatch because it is faster than using the radio and easier than sending a computer to computer message. It also keeps the air clear in case there is a more urgent need for someone else to use the radio. That happens very rarely in my case because I will usually go to the station to make those calls. I only do it if it is very busy and there's a need to get back into service rather than spending the time driving just to make a phone call.

There are times when the Officer-In-Charge wants information on a call and I will use it for that when I'm on scene because we don't want every scannerhead out there knowing possible sensitive information. You wouldn't want some stranger knowing the details of a suicide, homicide, sexual assault involving a family member and that would go out over the air by radio. And anybody can go out and buy a scanner to listen to our air.

I think the cellphone thing is a result of them being used and carried everywhere. Our newer officers have always had one and it's second nature for them to get on it. I think it looks bad and I don't like seeing anybody on a cell when driving. If we get in a crash while on the phone, we are liable for an Inattentive Driving citation as much as the next person.

This damned technology. Don't get me started on the cops with GPS devices stuck to the windshields in squad cars. There is no excuse for THAT!

Henry Vilas
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Re: cops + cell phones

Postby Henry Vilas » Mon Aug 23, 2010 1:31 pm

Walter, would you bust a fellow cop for texting while driving?

Just curious.

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Re: cops + cell phones

Postby fisticuffs » Mon Aug 23, 2010 1:47 pm

If we get in a crash while on the phone, we are liable for an Inattentive Driving citation as much as the next person.


Yeah but that's only if your buddies from county feel like writing the ticket. I had a cop pull right out in front of me to take a left turn when I was 16 years old. It was a Beloit city cop. They had to call in Rock county to investigate since they couldn't investigate their own. Cop got no ticket and I got no compensation for the damage to my vehicle. I suppose that's a case by case cop by cop thing but I do get the feeling that ticket doesn't get written all the time like it should.

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Re: cops + cell phones

Postby mifflander » Mon Aug 23, 2010 2:27 pm

When I see a cop on their cell (which is ALL the time) I just assume they are making a personal call. I have a hard time believing it's ever work related.

Walter
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Re: cops + cell phones

Postby Walter » Mon Aug 23, 2010 4:09 pm

Henry: the texting law exempts operators of emergency vehicles. Why, I don't know. So, no.

fisticuffs: I don't know about Beloit. Here a sergeant responds and reviews the crash and does the report, which then goes to a lieutenant and captain who review it again and they then direct the sergeant to either cite or not cite the involved officer. Yes, we get citations in crashes in which we are at fault, just like everybody else. Don't think we get a free pass. In the public sector, management is not a friend of labor either.

mifflander: I know and it looks like shit. That's why I don't do it. I can only control my own phone use.

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Re: cops + cell phones

Postby TheBookPolice » Mon Aug 23, 2010 4:12 pm

Walter wrote:Henry: the texting law exempts operators of emergency vehicles. Why, I don't know. So, no.

Would that be so that computer data entry preceding, say, a stop for a traffic violation couldn't be challenged in court as a violation of the "no electronic messaging while driving" clause?

Walter
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Re: cops + cell phones

Postby Walter » Mon Aug 23, 2010 4:33 pm

TheBookPolice wrote:
Walter wrote:Henry: the texting law exempts operators of emergency vehicles. Why, I don't know. So, no.

Would that be so that computer data entry preceding, say, a stop for a traffic violation couldn't be challenged in court as a violation of the "no electronic messaging while driving" clause?


I suppose so, but it's against policy to use the MDC (mobile data computer) while the vehicle is in motion anyway. It is a policy which is violated routinely. How else to you run a plate to find out if it's really expired (c'mon people, put your stickers on!) or if the car is stolen? Hope that you get a serendipitous red light, I guess!

The law also exempts amateur radio operators too. I don't get it. Mobile telegraph key operation or something for morse code?

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Re: cops + cell phones

Postby snoqueen » Mon Aug 23, 2010 9:33 pm

It doesn't have to make sense, it just shows you who had the most effective lobbyists.

jjoyce
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Re: cops + cell phones

Postby jjoyce » Tue Aug 24, 2010 8:47 am

Just spotted the Capitol heat in an SUV on King Street talking on his phone. I may or may not have mad dogged him.

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Re: cops + cell phones

Postby wack wack » Tue Aug 24, 2010 8:50 am

Walter wrote:Henry: the texting law exempts operators of emergency vehicles. Why, I don't know. So, no.


Interesting... do the laws of biology and physics exempt emergency vehicle operators, too?

Walter
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Re: cops + cell phones

Postby Walter » Tue Aug 24, 2010 12:44 pm

wack wack wrote:
Walter wrote:Henry: the texting law exempts operators of emergency vehicles. Why, I don't know. So, no.


Interesting... do the laws of biology and physics exempt emergency vehicle operators, too?


yes, we spontaneously generate and can create a thermodynamic process which is perfectly efficient.


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