Communications are vital to the street cop. Radios and computer-aided dispatch send and receive vital information to the modern street warriors that allows them to more safely complete their job. Information such as: nature of the call, location, suspect and vehicle descriptions, weapons present, as well as previous calls and dispositions are available to the officer on the beat, prior to making contact with the offender. This information translates to approach routes, tactics selected (such as weapon readiness and number of officers sent) and suspect-handling TTP’s (tactics, techniques and procedures—how you interact and deal with the offender[s]). Modern communication technology includes devices that track and locate patrol vehicles as well as “panic buttons” on portable radios and in-car computers to silently alert dispatch that you’re in trouble.
Recently, the Baltimore County Police Department received a federal grant that they are using to purchase and issue Blackberry smart phones to every member of that agency. The grant money, which is part of the 2009 Stimulus Fund, will be used to pay for the 2,000 units at a cost of about $1,707 per phone (including software).
According to the BPD Commissioner’s office, the new technology will allow the officer in a beat car to run the full gamut of computer inquiries (vehicle plates, driver status, warrants, etc.) as well as being able to send and receive text messages with dispatch. The portability of the pocket-sized technology gets the LEOs out of the car and on foot where they can investigate more people and locations. The Blackberry’s are also fitted with GPS locator technology to help find and locate officers that may be down, injured or unable to respond via voice comms.