Annapolis police deploy special operation to catch drivers on their cell phones

Cpl. Duane Daniels of the Annapolis Police Department isn’t wearing his standard issue black-and-blues as he camps out on the sidewalk, leaning against a bench, on this sunny Thursday.

He’s wearing a pair of dark shades, and a Navy blue sweatshirt with “ANNAPOLIS” written across his chest in white and has Apple headphones hanging from his ears. Passersby didn’t notice Daniels as he pegged driver after driver with using their cell phone behind the wheel. And neither did the drivers.

“Black Toyota, driver has the phone in her right hand. A black phone,” Daniels said over a radio device to his fellow Annapolis officers.  

He’s part of an undercover operation by Annapolis police to get drivers to stop using their phones.

“We’re hoping to save lives,” he said Thursday.

It’s the third time Annapolis police have conducted this sort of patrol. Daniels casually calls out cars to officers waiting a block or two down the road. The officers then pull over offending drivers. The operation has yielded a “couple hundred” citations and several arrests.

Police Thursday arrested a man for driving without a license.

In Maryland, it is now a primary offense to be on your phone while driving.

“Unfortunately, we flag people over who drive right up to police with the phone still in their hand,” Daniels said. “They know it’s wrong but they still don’t feel they should stop talking.”

Jane Chase, of Annapolis, was one of the drivers who was issued a ticket Thursday.

“Because it is dangerous and anything could happen,” Chase said.

The fine for drivers caught talking on their phone while driving is $83 and $70 for texting. Both carry the penalty of one point on your license.

“It’s not about the citations it’s more about making them aware of what could if they’re not paying attention to the road,” Daniels said.