ONLY ON 3: Driver says Carolina Beach cop texting and driving, department says he did nothing wrong
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CAROLINA BEACH, NC (WWAY) -- If a police officer catches you texting and driving, you could be in trouble. But what if it's the other way around.

A man driving in Carolina Beach yesterday says he caught a police officer using his phone while driving.

It's the picture that's raising eyebrows at Carolina Beach. The photo shows Ofc. Elliott Bass operating his phone Sunday afternoon while driving.

A witness, who did not want to be identified for fear of retribution by police, says it went on for a couple miles.

"He texted pretty much from the intersection at Dow Road to the first 55 mph speed limit sign on Carolina Beach Road, when we snapped the photo and then moved on past him," the man said.

Carolina Beach Police Lt. Anthony Marcucilli says state law lets an officer text and drive if he is performing his official duties. But Marcucilli says text logs from Bass's phone show the officer was not texting at the time.

Bass says he was using a weather app on his smartphone to check out the incoming storm.

Regardless of what Ofc. Bass was doing on his phone, the people of Carolina Beach did not like what they saw.

"Why is he allowed to do it if I'm not allowed to do it?" vacationer Marc Whitford asked when he saw the photo.

"People get killed that way," C.J. Stout said. "It's careless driving."

"I see more people swerving as they're texting more than drunk drivers," visitor Jack Newton said.

Carolina Beach police say they agree that it is a safety issue, and that it has been addressed, but in a statement, the department maintained bass did nothing illegal.

"It's not a good example of what we're trying to teach the kids not to do, and it's very dangerous," Carolina Beach resident Rachel Cavenaugh said.

The man who was driving next to Ofc. Bass says he had his eight-year-old daughter take the photo after she said something about the policeman not being safe.

Statement from CBPD Lt. Anthony Marcucilli:

In a response to a complaint about an officer using his cell phone to text while driving a marked police vehicle the following facts were revealed after my investigation.

On July 2, 2012 at 9:48 I spoke with the officer in question. Officer Bass confirmed on Sunday July 1, 2012 at approximately 5:40 p.m. he was driving vehicle number 81. I asked him the direct question, “Were you texting on your phone while driving?” he responded “no I wasn’t.” Officer Bass stated he noticed the clouds to the north of him were becoming dark so he used his personal cell phone to check the local weather forecast.

Officer Bass offered to print out a copy of his cell phone usage details. I reviewed his usage for text messages and determined that he did not receive or send any text messages within one hour from the time in question.

I counseled Officer Bass about the perception of the public and why it may looks improper to use your cell phone to check the weather while he is driving.

In conclusion I find no fault in Officer Bass’s actions. Officer Bass is assigned to Freeman Park as a Carolina Beach Police Officer and one of his duties is to check the weather conditions to ensure the safety of the public. As we discussed this is allowed by NC general statute 20-137.4A(b)(2).

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If I ever get arrested, I'm gonna contact some of the people who post on this site! Some of you guys make lawyers look sick!!

NOT...

This guy appears to be in a Jeep Wrangler. Just find the man with his arm out the window of sleeve covered tatoo's. By the way tatoo man, next time dont try to get your 15 minutes of fame and appear on TV not wanting to be indentified but have obvious traits that can be identified on you. Probably see you at North End, you wont be hard to miss.

Not sure what you are referring to but the "sleeve cop" is OFC Harvey - he used to have to have it covered - guess the new admin really doesn't care - CB seems to be going down fast - no leadership... Just watch and observe...

public information..?

data useage

to see how much "weather" is being checked

texts

to read to see time stamps and to see abuse

From the story: "...so he used his personal cell phone..."

Just like your cell phone records are not public information.

Cell phone records can be examined to determine if the driver was texting while operating their vehicle.......

if you are the regular public!

If he has nothing to hide....

he should volunteer the information

From the story: "Officer Bass offered to print out a copy of his cell phone usage details. I reviewed his usage for text messages and determined that he did not receive or send any text messages within one hour from the time in question."

He already has volunteered the information and it shows he wasn't texting. Try reading, you might like it.

He did volunteer the information as reported in the article...READ...

Personal Cell phone records are not public record, nor should they be. He obviously offered and showed his Captain the personal records, so he isnt hiding anything.

Trust me, if it was a town phone, WWAY would have already posted the records for everyone to see...

Sorry for the double and triple posts. I got caught in the WWAY time warp where they sit on a comment while posting others. So you submit it again thinking it wasn't approved. Then other comments appear so you submit again and the next thing you know, all comments are posted.

See above.

Was the 8 year old sitting in the front seat taking this picture???
Kids under 12 should be in the backseat...

i I agree. Was the 8 yr. old in the front seat? IF SO, THIS MAN WAS BREAKING THE LAW TO. WHY NOT CHARGE HIM? OH, HES ANONAMOUS, OF COURSE. AT LEAST HE WAS HOLDING THE PHONE UP AND NOT LOOKING DOWN. HOW MANY OF YOU MAKING COMMENTS THAT DON'T TEXT AND DRIVE AND HAVE BEEN LUCKY ENOUGH TO HAVE NEVER BEEN CAUGHT?

Really...you are going to comment on the person who took the picture? That is ridiculous.

And learn the law...

Its not ILLEGAL for an 8 year old to sit in the front. Its not recommended, but certainly NOT illegal.

Go to the NC DMV website and re-read the law

Once again WWAY hurting for viewers they must make up little stories. This police officer risks his life everyday for drunk rednecks and doesn't get paid squat! And WWAY is really going to reap on an non-issue while the real issues don't get any air time.Meanwhile, Iran is launching new missile testing, Al Qaeda is plotting to bomb US planes and Air Force service members have been killed fighting wildfires; yet WWAY is continuing to cover an officer that was doing his job and using his phone to stay informed about the bad incoming weather, that by the way killed 3 people Sunday in N.C. but those who lost their lives are not nearly as important of a cover story as this!! Right??

I appreciate you checking on the, approaching, weather. That is an indication that you arm yourself with all, possible, information to preform your job in an informed manner.

I'm saddened that someone, who was afraid to let themself be identified, went crying to the department and you had to be "counseled" instead of your superior taking the information (that you volunteered) and commending you for being self informed of the possible dangers which were approaching you and those whom you have sworn to protect.

We've never met and you may, actually, only be a margional officer. However, NOTHING in this report indicates as much and I hope that you will keep your chin up and continue to do everything possible to police the thankless individuals who have posted, especially when they have to swallow their pride to call on you for your knowledge, professionalism and experience when they can't protect themself from their own shortcomings.

To the individual(s) who thought that it was necessary to inform the media of this situation. I really hope that you are the next to require the assistance of Officer Bass.

Wilmington Observer

Why is this a big deal? How many people have actually been issued a citation for texting while driving? If you haven't then I don't want to hear people whine. Texting & driving is about the same as dialing a phone number anyway, there's no real way to enforce it.

Yes it's illegal, yes it's dangerous, but so is driving without a seat belt. How many of you still do that regularly?

The proper action would have been to issue Officer Bass a moving violation in this case and be done with the situation and NOT to come up with a lame excuse. I guess everyone texting can use the defense that they are just checking the weather in the future when getting a texting while driving ticket. This sets a bad precident for anyone.
Texting, checking your email, surfing the web, playing words with friends, or whatever is dangerous and should be considered unlawful.

Shame on CBPD.

Why is Lt. Marcucilli answering all questions related to the recent questionable actions of the CBPD? Why doesn't the interim chief respond to the actions of his department and handle the discipline of his officers. As stated earlier.. if the officer was assigned to Freeman Park, why is he headed in the opposite direction of the park? Seems to me that the acting chief cannot run his department and has handed Lt. Marcucilli free reign of the police department.

I second that! At least the LT lies much better... All of the officers are on "Free Reign" - Have you watched them lately?

You get all that about the CBPD from this article and the report that Marcucilli handled.

Obviously you have an issue with the interim chief or the department as a whole and you have lowered yourself to bash their integrity on a public website...

Bravo to you...you are fabulous

Thank you for all you do. Dont let the neg comments bring you down.

Yes, Thank You all police officers for risking your life every day for drunk rednecks, who do not appreciate you unil they need you!!

Everyone text and drives, but when a Police Officer is using his phone for business use people want to complain and make a big deal. How about the person taking the photo. Shouldn't he or she be paying attention to the road instead of taking a picture and driving. Everyone stop complaining and thank that Officer protecting the citizens and vacationers at Carolina Beach.

From the story: "The man who was driving next to Ofc. Bass says he had his eight-year-old daughter take the photo after she said something about the policeman not being safe."

What else can I answer for you today?

FROM THE LOOKS OF THE PICTURE, SHE WAS IN THE FRONT SEAT. IS THAT LEGAL?

Perfectly legal

Read the law again....its stated very clear that it is not recommended but it isnt illegal

I believe the child is the one that took the picture while her father was driving.

He shouldn't have been texting on or off duty. Pull over to the side of the road like everyone else does and text or make phone calls.

NO everyone does NOT text and drive you twit. I don't even DRIVE and TALK on my cell. Did you read the article? A kid took the picture not the driver.

It doesn't matter what he was doing. Point is, this is what causes accidents and he could have killed someone. I don't care if he was checking the weather or texting; cops should pull off the road and come to a stop before operating their phone FOR ANY REASON just like the rest of us.
Maybe when an officer does this and someone gets killed and there is a lawsuit and the city or town loses, then the chief will admit that the officer did something wrong. Meanwhile, of course he's going to say there was no wrongdoing ... he's covering his own rear with no conern for the safety of others. Pretty ironic.