Officers and seat belts: A dilemma in Prince George’s County

WASHINGTON – Two Prince George’s County police officers died in car accidents in the past two months – and neither officer was wearing a seat belt.

Mark MaGaw, Prince George’s police chief, says officers in Maryland have to follow state law, which mandates that they wear a seat belt.

“The general order is very clear,” MaGaw says.

Officer Kevin Bowden wasn’t wearing one Thursday when he was killed in an accident on Branch Avenue. Officer Adrian Morris wasn’t wearing his seat belt either when he was killed during a high speed chase on I-95 in August.

To get the police department’s officers to comply with state law, the importance of wearing a seat belt is mentioned daily to the command staff, to the rank and file and during police roll calls.

MaGaw says by Dec. 1, he expects a department-wide traffic safety program to begin.

“It concerns me deeply,” MaGaw says. “There are so many things in this profession that you just cannot control. We have to control the things we can and wearing a seat belt is certainly one of those.”

WTOP’s Veronica Robinson contributed to this report. Follow WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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