ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Anne Arundel County’s police chief takes a bold step, prohibiting officers from using hand-held devices for talking or texting while driving.

Chief Kevin Davis tells Pat Warren his reasons.

Anne Arundel County police expect drivers to toe the line when it comes to hand-held devices.

Officer: “Do you know why the initial reason I’m stopping you today?”

Driver: “I think for my phone.”

Officer: “Yes, you were on your cell phone. You’re not allowed to be texting or checking your messages.”

Effective Oct. 1, it is a primary offense to use a hand-held device while driving in Maryland.

Officer: “Do you know why I’m stopping you today?”

Driver: “No, I don’t.”

Officer: “We were sitting at the light watching you use your hand-held device.”

Driver: “I was holding it. I wasn’t using it.”

Officer: “It kind of looked a little different from what I saw.”

No excuses for police, either, says Chief Kevin Davis.

“We have to model the behavior, driving behaviors, we expect from our motorists,” he said.

Law enforcement officers are exempt from the state ban on talking and texting while driving, but departments statewide have the option of setting their own policy.

“I just don’t think that you can be on a hand-held cell phone and give your full time and attention to driving. I just don’t think it’s humanly possible,” said Davis.

Officers may use the phones under the exemption in emergency situations, but will be held accountable for non-emergency use.

“The occasional benefit of being able to grab a phone as a police officer and make a quick call is really dramatically outweighed by the dangers it presents,” Davis said.

County officers stopped 156 drivers on the first day of the new law.

Chief Davis says Anne Arundel County is taking the lead on this and hopes other jurisdictions will at least consider a similar policy.

Hands-free devices are OK for officers. Chief Davis is the co-chair of the Maryland Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee.

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