Watch: Police Officer allegedly caught on his phone while driving
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Just weeks after police slammed motorists using mobile phones while driving, one of their own is to be scrutinised for doing the same thing past a Napier primary school.
After video footage emerged yesterday of a Napier man being confronted by a police officer defending his mobile phone use while driving, Hawke's Bay police said they would look into the circumstances surrounding the confrontation.
The man, who did not wish to be named, told Hawkes Bay Today the incident started at about 9.30am, as he left Greenmeadows Bakery.
"I saw this cop drive past with the phone in front of his mouth and in his hand. He was obviously talking so I pointed at him but he'd already gone past.
"He then kept driving from Greenmeadows, all the way past Greenmeadows Primary School, down towards Taradale, down past the roundabout into Taradale and then drive through Taradale.
"I got past him at that intersection and slowed right down to see if he was still on his phone - and he was."
He then beeped his horn at the patrol car and told him to get off his phone.
However, the officer then put his lights on and pulled him over.
"He jumped out of his car... asking me what I wanted. I said 'it's because you're on your phone mate'."
The policeman's response was "so what?"
"He got quite aggressive so I started videoing it, and as you can see he was basically sticking to the approach he's allowed to use his phone."
While it subsequently appeared the policeman was right, he believed police still had to pull over as soon as they could.
"If that is so but he drove about 2km or 3km, past multiple carparks. He didn't have his lights on, he didn't seem in a rush and he obviously had the time to come and talk to me.
"I don't understand why he couldn't use his RT or pull over, I mean he went past a primary school. That's just unsafe. If a little kid runs out and he wasn't paying attention, like the rest of us, something bad could happen."
The man questioned why it was fair for police to use a mobile while driving.
"I have seen it multiple times - cops on their phones, and that's why I made a big deal of it. The cops need to stand up for what they are saying."
Earlier this month police conducted a safety blitz aimed at motorists using phones or not using a seatbelt that resulted in 35 infringement notices being issued.
At that time Senior Sergeant Mike Stevenson said police wanted everyone to arrive at their destinations safely.
"Drivers need to be aware of the very real risk that distractions represent, especially texting and using mobile phones while driving. Put the phone away, or pull over."
Over the course of last year police issued 520 infringement notices to motorists using phones while driving in Hawke's Bay, amounting to a total of $38,480 in fines.
Responding to yesterday's video footage, Hawke's Bay area commander, Inspector Dave Greig said while police could use phones while driving in the line of duty, they would be treated no differently to any member of the public if a phone was used in any other respect.
"Police take road safety seriously and is dedicated to reducing trauma in New Zealand.
Section 7.3A of the Land Transport (Road User) Rule 2004, provides for enforcement officers to use mobile phones while driving, if the use of the phone is in the execution of the officer's duty.
"Police employees who breach land transport legislation are treated no differently to members of the public, and depending on the circumstances may be subject to further disciplinary action.
"The use of police mobility devices and other communication is decided on a case-by-case basis. As this particular footage has only just come to light, it will take some time to establish the precise circumstances."
-Hawkes Bay Today