Police are exempt from hands-free cell phone law

 

The in basket: A reader who doesn’t want to have his name used out of fear the authorities will get mad at him says he has noticed numerous law enforcement officers using their cell phones held to their ears as they drive. He wonders if they are exempt from the hands-free law.

The out basket: Yes, say Bremerton police Lt. Pete Fisher and Trooper Krista Hedstrom. The law (RCW 46.61.667) specifically exempts emergency vehicles, which, of course, includes police cars. Police use of in-car communications such as emergency radios predates cell phones by decades, anyway.

The law also specifically exempts tow truck drivers en route to a disabled vehicle, drivers wearing hearing aids and everyone else if they are reporting illegal activity, summoning medical or other emergency help or preventing injury to a person or property.
Pete said BPD officers are directed in department policies to use due care and caution in operating their cars. 

Krista said, “Chief Batiste has been clear that he wants troopers to set a good example, by limiting their use of cell phones while driving. 

“The WSP has provided hands-free devices to any employee who is assigned

a State Patrol cell phone and who requests it,” she added. 

“With that being said, there are probably more times than the public

realizes when a cell phone is an appropriate tool for the responding

trooper or supervisor,” she said.

“Bomb threats come immediately to mind, but there are other situations where the information shouldn’t go over a system

that can be monitored by anyone with a scanner.  

“Citizens are allowed to use the cell phone to report emergencies –  just as a trooper might use a

cell phone to coordinate the response.”

2 thoughts on “Police are exempt from hands-free cell phone law

  1. So, if everyone agrees the cell law is ineffective, why isn’t it changed? It’s quite obvious that the penalty is peanuts, and not worthy of concern to anyone. Increase the finet to $500 and loss of the device for the first infraction. But as it’s been pointed out, it really is too hard to nab a violator with tinted windows. And the police are offenders as well, as already mentioned. I doubt very seriously that every use of the device is a secret call. Why can’t they have hands-free attachments? I guess it’s like using turn signals – too much trouble, even for the BPD.

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