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Can Wilmington Police talk on cellphones or use their computers while driving?

John Peaspanen
StarNews

City of Wilmington Police Officer CíLesha Perkins patrols the Monkey Junction area in her patrol car on April 26, 2012. StarNews photo By Matt Born.

Q. Are City of Wilmington Police Officers allowed to be on the cell phone while driving or messing with their laptop computers while driving?

A. As long as the communication is not personal usage, the answer is yes.

According to the Wilmington Police Department Policy Manual section titled “Use of Cell Phones/Personal Electronic Devices,” officers may use cell phones and other devices while driving if the calls involve “the transaction of official business.”

The manual reads, “The Wilmington Police Department will utilize cellular telephone technology as a means of facilitating patrol and investigative functions, enhancing the ability of supervisors to provide line personnel with operational direction and as a means of logistical communications support during special operations and major incidents.”

That said, officers are expected to pull over to the side of the road whenever possible to “answer an incoming call; look up numbers, or dial the phone.” If this is not possible, they are advised to use “extreme care.”

WPD officers are assigned phones for official use only. Periodic audits are conducted by their superiors to ensure all usage complies with state and federal laws related to the devices’ use and that the devices are being properly cared for.

Officers may also carry personal cellular devices on their person during their shift. All personal calls must be made on these phones and may only be made while their vehicle is pulled off of the road.

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Zack

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