Officials say they need clarification on a proposed ban on cellphone use for city employees while driving during work hours.
Aldermen completed the second reading of a bill making it illegal for city staff to talk or text while driving at work during the March 5 board meeting, but did not vote to put the law into effect when questions arose about technology in city vehicles and definition of texting devices.
Police Chief Matt Mansell said some police cars are not equipped with Bluetooth, which would enable officers to talk without using their hands.
Public Works Commissioner Robert Brueggemann said city vehicles also lack Bluetooth capability. He asked whether there would be a grace period for his crews until it can be installed in their vehicles.
City Administrator Steve Roth said in his view there could not be a grace period. Once the ordinance is approved, it would immediately be illegal for city workers to talk on equipment that required them to use their hands while driving city vehicles for work.
Alderman Carol Johnson said the city should not put the law into effect until city vehicles are equipped with the needed technology.
Other aldermen also said they needed more clarification on an amendment to the ordinance that fellow Alderman Herb Adams requested.
The original bill said city employees should refrain from using a cellphone to talk or text without hands free while driving.
Adams asked to amend the bill to include cellphones and other devices. He said motorists also can text on devices other than cellphones, such as tablets or iPads.
Some officials want a specific definition of the devices that are included in the ban.
City Attorney Bob Jones suggested that once the second reading of the bill was completed, aldermen withhold voting on the measure until clarification is reached on equipping city vehicles and a definition of the banned devices.
The law will not go into effect until it comes back to the board of aldermen for a final vote.