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Arundel police chief orders no phones while driving

Anne Arundel County's police officers will have to follow hands-free cell phone laws just like other drivers.

Anne Arundel County Police Chief Kevin Davis said on Facebook and Twitter on Tuesday that he believes his officers should set an example and follow the law, even though there's an exemption for law enforcement officers.

"Police officers must model the driving behaviors we expect from our motorists," Davis wrote. "The current cell phone law has exempted law enforcement, but public opinion clearly has not."

Police officers will only be allowed to use their phones while driving if they are using a hands-free device, the chief wrote.

Since Oct. 1, talking or texting while driving is a primary offense in Maryland, meaning officers can pull over a driver for doing it. Previously, drivers could only be cited for using a cell phone if they were pulled over for another traffic violation, such as speeding.

In his post, Davis said the agency has been "aggressively ticketing" drivers who talk or text and drive.

On the first day the new law was in effect, for example, Anne Arundel officers stopped 156 drivers during a special enforcement effort in Annapolis. They issued 88 warnings and 45 citations for drivers who were using their phones.

Davis wrote that police officers already have many things competing for their attention including police radios and computers. "Add to the mix our crime fighting obligation to be constantly aware of our surroundings, and the insertion of a hand-held cell phone seems almost ridiculous," he wrote.

pwood@baltsun.com

twitter.com/pwoodreporter

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