“Signal 12 copy a call?” “Signal 12 go ahead,” I said. “…The caller indicates that she lost control of her vehicle and it’s turned over on the side of the road. She also indicates that she’s trapped inside and the last road sign she remembers seeing was Corral Road.” My Sergeant and I both looked at each other for a moment and then off we went. Sgt. Daniel Fletcher aka “Fletch” is known as the human GPS (global positioning system) and even he got lost on this one.

hightech2.jpgBetween Hamilton County Sheriff’s units and us, we eventually found the victim. Luckily she was in fairly good condition upon arrival of EMS and County units, but it took about 15 minutes to locate her. With only having one street name to work with and no real idea of how far down the road she’d gone, we were really just guessing.

As we headed back towards our town limits it made me realize that even though I work with men and women who know this region well, there is the occasional time when even they get lost. It’s those rare moments that seem to bite us in the rear as LEOs when something really bad happens. You’ve been there, right? All those should’ve, could’ve, would’ves…

The very day that this incident occurred I went straight to my local retail department store and bought a highly recommended GPS model. It’s proven to be the best investment in electronics I’ve ever made. TomTom ONE XL has solved many a quandary for me not only on-duty but off-duty as well. Think you don’t need GPS? Okay, let’s play the “what if game,” I said to Fletch, who was giving me a bit of ribbing the next day for buying a “cheating device.” 

I asked him to pick the most obscure address he could think of. Unbeknownst to me, Fletch picked an address in a subdivision called Hidden Brook. Hidden Brook somehow possesses the very powers of the Bermuda Triangle to confuse the GPS systems attached to our dash-cams. Mind you, these hard-wired systems are complete with externally mounted antennae and yet they constantly lose acquisition with the GPS system. 

My GPS never once lost acquisition and got us there in record time. Fletch was impressed. We spent the day going from address to address trying to confuse the thing, but it never skipped a turn. You still don’t think you need a GPS? Oh, you’re one of those who say, “Real cops use maps!” 

Imagine that you’re out patrolling and a fellow officer calls for emergency back-up. The last thing you hear is their voice go taut as they say, “Start me some units this way.” Dispatch can’t raise them and you know it’s only you and him in this area. Now is not the time to be rifling through a map, not to mention that when you know that your brother officer may be fighting for his life, you will instantly go into SNS (sympathetic nervous system) mode. Your SNS will not allow you to focus on something as minute as a map. 

I practice address entry into my GPS routinely while en route to pretty much everything. As soon as dispatch gives out a call to me or one of my fellow officers I input it into my TomTom device that way I don’t have to remember it or even think about it…just follow the voice prompts. I do this even if I know exactly where I’m going.

I currently have this down to about six seconds as opposed to the 50 seconds that it takes to look at a map. If things go bad and your partner asks for assistance, you can pick up from where you currently are and off you go. TomTom will constantly update your directions even if you’re going opposite of what it’s telling you to do. If you really tick it off it’ll just say, “Turn around.” 

TomTom GO 930
Like I mentioned before, I have the ONE XL, which is a great unit but there is something better to be had. Seeing as how you can’t possibly do an article justice without testing the best model, I waited for the TomTom GO 930. It’s been like test driving a Porsche and having to go back to your Ford afterwards. The GO 930 offers among its other features: IQ routes technology, advanced lane guidance, TomTom Map Share, maps of the US, Canada and Europe, enhanced positioning technology, voice address input, hands-free calling, FM transmitter, Bluetooth remote control and more.

What all that stuff above means for you is this. Imagine that you want to have your music with you, you want to be able to talk on the phone hands-free and you want to be able to hear your directions clearly. Done. The GO 930 does it all and then some. First off, what you do is plug the unit into your computer at home and download the latest upgrades from your “TomTom Home” account. This initial set-up is only about a 10-minute process. From that point forward you’ll only commit a few seconds out of your week to keep your TomTom running at peak performance. Weekly downloads include pre-coordinates for the GPS system so that your unit will know where all the satellites are at all times. 

Map corrections verified by TomTom and the latest software upgrades—all free, mind you. Next you download music onto an SD (secure digital) card and slide it into your GPS unit for the installed Jukebox setting. It will also handle pictures and text files. Next you command it to “sync up” with your Bluetooth-enabled phone and pull your entire phonebook over to its own memory. 

From this day forward you can leave your phone in your pocket and do everything hands-free right on your TomTom. If that isn’t cool enough for you, you can even have the TomTom play audio over your car stereo or even your Bluetooth headset. This feature comes in handy when you’re using the unit while on a personal trip.

Final Notes
The fact is that GPS has come a long way from those very clunky, boxy units of old that were mildly accurate at best. With TomTom there’s no longer any excuse for getting lost. Imagine what a hero you’d be to be able to get to an emergency call long before anybody else does because they’re busy looking at a blasted map. By the same token I’m quite the hero to my kids because Dad always knows where the nearest fast food restaurant is. No matter where we go, there we are.

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“Signal 12 copy a call?” “Signal 12 go ahead,” I said. “…The caller indicates…