Exempt from the law? Calgary police officer caught distracted driving

Click to play video: 'Social media reacts to picture of police officer on phone behind the wheel' Social media reacts to picture of police officer on phone behind the wheel
WATCH ABOVE: photo circling social media showing a Calgary police officer on her phone while driving is under scrutiny. Sarah Offin has the reaction, and what police are saying about it – Mar 30, 2016

CALGARY – It’s not unusual to catch a driver or two on their phones while commuting around Calgary, but this photo caught a lot of people by surprise.

Eric Coulson posted a photo on March 24, 2016 that appears to show a Calgary Police officer using their cell phone behind the wheel.

The photo has been shared on Facebook almost 13,000 times and it got people on social media talking.

Coulson said in his post, “I guess the rules don’t apply.”

He’s not entirely wrong.

Under the Traffic Safety Act drivers of an emergency vehicle are able to use hand-held devices and other electronics when acting within the scope of their employment.

Police said they train their officers how to do so safely, but try to avoid it if at all possible.

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“Internally, what we tell our people is that ‘we understand that a lot of information is coming to you all the time… some of that is information you need that could have public and officer safety,’” Kevin Brockwell with the Calgary Police said. “But we’re saying ‘if you need use those devices and it’s not exigent circumstances – pull over like everybody else.’”

Police said they have spoken with the officer from the photo and that the phone use was urgent and work-related.

But they admit she could have pulled over and handled this matter more safely.

They plan to use the image as a teaching example in their organization in the future.

They say the public expects a higher standard from the Calgary Police  – and so do they.


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