How does law enforcement communicate with each other?
February 28, 2012
Law enforcement communications devices are an essential tool for performing their job effectively. They use them to respond to dispatch calls and rush to crime scenes and traffic accidents. They also use them to screen suspects, check driver identification and vehicle ownership. Calling for emergency medical services and law enforcement backup is also a function of law enforcement communication devices.
Law enforcement communications have evolved in significant ways since the beginning of the 1980s when they carried 3-channel radios that were about the size of a brick. This handheld radio, their car radio, and any phone they could find were their only communications sources in the days prior to the advent of cell phones and other sophisticated devices.
Today the most commonly used law enforcement communications device is the two-way radio with as much as 700-megahertz. The 9/11 terrorist attacks prompted law enforcement agencies all over the U.S. to upgrade their radio communications significantly because of serious inefficiencies that became obvious during that crisis. That event made it obvious that emergency medical personnel, firefighters and law enforcement personnel needed radios that were able to communicate with each other. While there are still more upgrades needing to be made in many municipalities, significant communications improvements have occurred in a large number of places.
Personal data assistants (PDAs) are also a relatively new law enforcement communications device. They help officers in a variety of ways, including doing language translations for non-English speaking people they come in contact with. They also help law enforcement to verify information, keep track of court appearances and file reports.
The advent of law enforcement communications in the form of mobile data terminals in their cars has transformed the way many law enforcement functions are conducted. They allow them to check vehicle-registration records and screen for stolen cars and arrest warrants. They also allow them to communicate with dispatch officers and law enforcement headquarters. Law enforcement cars are also equipped with video cameras to record pullovers. These can verify information in the event that an officer is injured, killed or accused of misconduct. They’re also used to supply evidence in court cases.
Another law enforcement communications tool is the mobile phone. Law enforcement can use their phones in a variety of ways including using voice commands to access their phone while driving.
All in all, law enforcement communications technology has evolved in ways that enable them to more effectively do their job while in their cars, on foot or on the scene of an emergency. No doubt more law enforcement communications tools will be added as they become available.