Aberdeen updates technology policy

The Aberdeen City Council this week approved updates to policy regarding the use of smart technology, including cell phones, hands free devices, texting and email.

The amended policy was prompted by city employees who need to talk on cell phones while driving by using hands-free cellular technology. Cell phones have replaced dispatch radios in most Parks and Recreation vehicles since the old policy was crafted in August of 2007, Parks and Recreation Director Karl Harris said. Incoming Human Resources Director Debbie Lund worked with department heads to craft changes.

No employee except those engaged in emergency business, “shall initiate a conversation on any cellular telephone (business or personal) when operating a motor vehicle while engaged in city business,” and is “directed to stop at a safe location prior to initiating any phone call,” the new guidelines read.

Employees are permitted to “receive an incoming cellular telephone call when it is safe to do so using a hands-free device.” They must use discretion prior to answering, “given the existing traffic and road conditions.” If in doubt, the employee “is directed to let the call go to voice mail and retrieve the message when stopped at a safe location.” The new policy further asked that “(a)nswered calls are to be kept to the shortest duration necessary to meet the immediate need of the call.

“In no case may an employee create, send, or read an incoming text message or email while operating a motor vehicle while engaged in city business,” the guidelines say.

Policies for Police and Fire Department personnel are to be determined by their respective chiefs.