FALLS CITY – Falls City resident Lonnie Blevins urged the city council Monday to equip police with hands-free phone technology to reduce distractions by cellular phones.
He said wireless technology, such as Bluetooth, is widely available in America, but said he witnessed a police officer using his hands to talk on a phone while driving.
Blevins: “Since he’s in our vehicle, in a uniform that says Falls City Police Department, since the people under 18 can’t use them, wouldn’t they use the modern equipment so they wouldn’t see the officers using them.”
Councilman Derrick Leyden questioned Blevins about whether police are human beings and about his personal cell phone use.
Blevins: “No, I don’t use my cell phone in my car. I push the button here because it’s equipped with that and I use that Bluetooth so I can go hands free and have both hands on the wheel and drive properly and not swerve in traffic.”
Councilman Mitch Merz said Blevins has a point about the value of hands-free technology, but said police radios in cars still need to be picked up.
Blevins said the radio should be located in the vehicle so that officers can reach for it without taking their eyes off the road.
Blevins: “I answered your question, answer mine. Are our trucks capable of this? Why aren’t we using this technology? That’s why I’m asking these questions. That’s safety. The more we can keep our officers’ eyes on the road, instead of looking at a cell phone, the safer it is for everybody. Yes or no?”
Duane Armbruster said he does not have the budget to use Bluetooth connectivity for all cell phones used by officers.
He said Blevins initially believed it was illegal to use cell phones while driving. In Nebraska, cell phones can be used by drivers over the age of 18.