Anna Leask is senior police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Texting cop asked to explain himself

A fellow motorist snapped the policeman allegedly texting while driving. Photo / Supplied
A fellow motorist snapped the policeman allegedly texting while driving. Photo / Supplied

A senior policeman snapped texting while driving will be given a chance to explain before his bosses decide what action to take.

The Herald published a photograph yesterday of the officer using a cellphone as he drove along a central Auckland street.

After viewing the photo, several police sources said the officer appeared to be Inspector Turepu Keenan, a shift commander based at the Auckland central station. The photograph was taken by another motorist who was driving behind the patrol car.

He said the officer was "constantly looking down" at his phone as he drove along Customs St.

"I pulled up beside him at the lights and I said to my partner, 'That cheeky sod is still texting away,' so I poked my camera out the window and boom," he said.

Mr Keenan, who was at work yesterday, claimed he had not seen the photograph when contacted by the Herald.

When questioned further he refused to comment and hung up the phone.

Auckland police refused to answer specific questions about the incident, but confirmed the inspector in question was a shift commander, whose duties include overseeing emergency responses.

"He will be spoken to by his supervisor when he is next on duty and will be given an opportunity to explain his actions while in a patrol car using a mobile phone. Any further action will be determined by what his explanation is," said spokeswoman Noreen Hegarty.

"All police staff are reminded that police are expected to maintain the highest possible standard and act as good role models and, although police have an exemption under the rules, it is only to be used if operationally necessary."

Although it is illegal for motorists to use cellphones while driving, police are exempt if they are using their phones in the execution of their duties.

The Herald revealed on Monday that the police in Auckland have enforced the phone ban, which came into force in 2009, much more rigorously than anywhere else in New Zealand. But, a nationwide clampdown will be launched in November.

In the first 21 months after the law came into effect, more than 14,000 tickets were issued to drivers caught using cellphones while driving.

- NZ Herald

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