When most people think of police officers, they probably think of people who drive in a safe manner. What many people don’t realize is that police officers might be distracted as they drive because of the in-car computers in patrol cars. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office is trying to determine if the use of those computers should be limited.
The question comes only months after a cyclist was killed after being hit by a deputy who was typing on an in-car computer. That incident seems to be a wake up call for the law enforcement agency, but it isn’t an isolated incident. In 2012 and 2013, about 140 people were injured in California because of incidents involving distracted ambulance drivers, police officers and firemen. Two of the three deaths in Southland in the last two years were blamed on police officers who were using those computers.
If the policy goes into effect, it would severely limit the use of in-car computers in an effort to reduce distracted driving by officers. Instead, the policy would require that the radio be used while the vehicle is moving. The in-car computers wouldn’t be used for administrative tasks. In the case of the recent death, the officer who struck the prominent entertainment lawyer was replying to another officer via a computer about a recently concluded fire call.
The move to more radio communication isn’t without opposition. A union leader says that having to rely more on radio communication would make it harder for officers to get their jobs done. He says that the computers provide important information, such as GPS mapping, that is too hard to relay over the radio.
That union leader is calling for better training for officers. He is also calling for improved technology for law enforcement. Regardless of who wins this battle, the fact remains that no family should lose a loved one because a law enforcement officer was too distracted to drive safely. Anyone who loses a loved one at the hands of a distracted driver has the right to seek compensation for that loss.
Source: PoliceOne.com, “LASD may limit car computer use to ease distracted driving” Brenda Gazzar, Dec. 07, 2014