Officers who work security at restaurants will tell you they have seen people come in for dinner. Each one of them is carrying their own cell phone in their hands. They observe zero communication at the dinner table, because everyone is on their phone.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a fancy restaurant or a Denny’s. Sadly, it happens at the home dinner table of some of you reading this, as well.

Cell phones routinely deprive loved ones and friends from the attention of others. Nobody is talking; devices are taking over our lives. This crap has infected the world of Law Enforcement, too.

 

OVERLOAD WARNING

Today’s officer is overloaded with distractions: radios, a computer, lights and siren controls, license plate scanners and other electronic gear consumes us.  Those are just the work-related devices.    There something else, more insidious, contributing to officer distraction … personal cell phones. At roll calls half the room is on their personal phone.

I’ve seen officers, in the station, on an arrest. They are on their phone chatting about something that is unrelated to their duties.  This is a safety issue, as well. It also increases the risk of mistakes in their paperwork.

Those reading this know who the culprits are. Is it you? Some officers use their cell phone so much that they must carry their phone charger with them in order to make it through the entire single shift.

I wonder, what did officers do before the advent of cell phones? They had to talk to each other in the car. Yikes!
I suspect this is a problem everywhere. Do you work with someone addicted to checking text messages, emails and social media while they are shopping on-line?  How safe do you feel?  Doesn’t this behavior worry you?  You want to tell them to “Put the phone down!”

Your partner should have your back. Staring at a cell phone is a major-league distraction.  This distraction means slower response time in the event of something going sideways.

 

ARE YOU ADDICTED?

If you are addicted to your phone, think about the impact it has on those around you.  That phone call can wait.  Let it go to voicemail.  Resist the urge to constantly check text messages or email.  It’s not healthy to constantly be on the phone while at work, and especially when you work in a squad car.

In just the past two years, too many cops have been assassinated when they weren’t paying attention. What are you focused on?

Stealing your attention

Nicholas Carr explains in his book “The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains.” The net is designed to be an interruption system, a machine geared to dividing attention. “We willingly accept the loss of concentration and focus, the division of our attention and the fragmentation of our thoughts, in return for the wealth of compelling or at least diverting information we receive.”

 

OFFICERS DO NOT NEED MORE DISTRACTIONS

What officers do not realize is that, they are addicted to their phones.  Addiction is the relentless pull to a substance or an activity that becomes so compulsive it interferes with everyday life. Does a phone interfere with your ability to do the job?

Some officers will continue talking on their cell phone during a traffic stop.  I’ve seen it.  Please put the phone down.

According to a recent survey, the average worker spends up to six hours a day on email. That doesn’t count time online spent shopping, searching or keeping up with social media.

The brain’s craving for novelty, constant stimulation and immediate gratification creates something called a “compulsion loop.” Like lab rats and drug addicts, we seek more and more stimulation to get the same effect.

 

HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?

Don’t officers get enough stimulation at work?  Too much stimulation creates a cognitive overload. It’s as if our brain is cup of water that is full to the brim. Any more added will simply spill out.  Spending too much time on the phone reduces your capacity to handle other things.

We all know an Officer who is on their phone too much.  That is unsafe for the officer and his partner whom he is assigned/sworn to protect.

I once offered to buy a guy on my team lunch if he put his cell phone away for the entire shift.  I didn’t end up buying lunch. The urge to answer his phone was more than he could resist.

I understand cell phones are necessary in modern society.  It is critical that you find a reasonable balance for their use.  I challenge you to go a day without using yours.

Set rules with your family.  Challenge yourself to fight the urge to answer every phone call, email, and text message when you hear the tones, dings and rings. Put the phone away and see what happens.

At the bottom line, it’s all about saving just ONE life.

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