Marion Police Go Hands Free in the New Year
MARION -- A local police department is setting an example of safe driving. Police officers are exempt from the new Illinois law, banning use of hand-held phones at the wheel. But Marion Police have decided to go hands free anyway.
Marion police are already on the lookout for drivers talking on handheld phones. Now, officers have decided to be safer behind the wheel, too.
"In my opinion, officers should not be on the phone. They should have both hands on the wheel," says Assistant Police Chief Daniel Byrne.
All 32 squad cars have been outfitted with blue tooth hands free devices. They cost almost $60 do a piece. A price Chief Byrne believes is well worth it.
"The law is there for a reason. It's for safety so you're not distracted. So, to me it only makes sense that I would want something that's going to help me keep more focused on the road," says Chief Byrne.
Marion officers decided to purchase hands free devices back in September to spread out the cost. The goal was to be prepared by the New Year, even though it wasn't required.
Police often take duty-related phone calls while out on patrol. Chief Byrnes says, just because officers are exempt from the new hands free law, that doesn't mean they're exempt from accidents.
"I wear a seat belt all the time. We are exempt from the seat belt law. For that reason I don't want somebody to think that I'm getting away with something that they can't," says Chief Byrne.
Besides setting a good example and improving safety. The blue tooth device offers other advantages to the force.
"For instance, if they're going to a house to serve a search warrant. They don't want to actually put it out over the radio because if the person has a scanner, then anything that they're going to for evidence is gone down the drain," says Chief Byrne.
Under the new Illinois law, drivers caught talking on a hand held phone face a $75 fine for a first offense.
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