Law Enforcement Technology

JUL 2015

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Page 8 of 63 July 2015 Law Enforcement Technology 9 code with a specific message. Some of the messages included: police wagon required, accident, murder, disorderly (drunkard) and others. It was thirty years later (1928) that the first portable radio system was devel- oped and put into use. In Detroit, a one- way radio system was developed that allowed someone in police headquarters to dispatch to all patrol vehicles an infor- mational call. Those earliest radios didn't have a dedicated frequency or band and had to be registered with the Federal Radio Commission. Just five years after that, in 1933, the Bayonne, New Jersey police department installed two-way radio systems in their patrol vehicles. The radios enabled back- and-forth communications between cars and the headquarters or district station. It used a very high frequency (VHF) system and increased patrol efficiency through streamlining clarity of commu- nications. Questions could be asked and answered; extra information could be provided as it was received. The first handheld radio came into being in 1940 and was built by the Galvin Mfg. Co. (what became Motorola). Primarily developed for mili- tary use and far larger than what we con- sider a handheld radio to be today, the "handy talkie" allowed for two-way com- munications in a package that you could carry on your back (originally) or in your hand (after further development). Believe it or not (and this shocked me when I read it), the first car phone—otherwise known as a "radio- telephone"—was installed in October of 1946. Again, built by Motorola and called the "Car Radiotelephone," the signal was mixed over to the Illinois Bell Telephone lines and quickly grew to the capacity of the system. Somehow, know- ing that car phone technology existed almost 70 years ago makes me wonder why some police agencies didn't have even handheld radio technology in use as late as the 1970s. In-car two-way radios became more and more common, but the average police officer, upon exiting his patrol vehicle, or walking a beat, still didn't have ready communications until the handheld radio went mainstream. The biggest challenge that existed, without us even knowing it, was that technology was about to explode with capability and our demand for its portable use was going to explode in parallel. By the end of the 1980s it would be commonplace for every patrol officer to have a radio in his vehicle and on his belt; or one on his belt that he could plug into a base mounted in his car that served to recharge the radio's battery and allowed communication through the vehicle's microphone/speaker sys- tem. By the early Nineties we saw the first mobile data terminals (MDTs) or in-car computer systems. While car radio and landline-based telephone systems had been mixed in the 1940s, the advent of computers mounted in cars presented a whole new chapter in portable communications; and one that would complicate things as well as create new challenges at a level never before seen or imagined. When we introduced mobile com- puters into our patrol vehicles we went farther beyond two-way radio communi- cations than we ever expected. Looking back at it now, the electronics were straight forward, as were the mount- ing challenges. Wire the computer up so that it is powered and mount it so that it's out of the way of the operator. We had to overcome the challenges of keeping computers out of the way of deploying airbags, but we successfully worked around that. We had to find a way to transmit controlled data over a radio wave or a cellular carrier wave and we successfully did that. We needed to develop software that integrated data transmission with radio communications and we did that, too. In parallel to those efforts, the com- mercial cellular phone industry was also exploding. We went from handheld phones that allowed only voice commu- nication to: • Devices that allowed push-to-talk (PTT) capability • Devices that allowed two-way text communication • Devices that took pictures and allowed transmission of them • Devices that allowed access to the Internet. The world has never been the same since. In 2001, the law enforcement com- munications industry and indeed the commercial cellphone industry as a whole got a rude awakening. The ter- rorist attacks of September 11 th , 2001 demonstrated, in a very ugly way, that our public safety first responders were crippled to near dysfunction by the inability to communicate with one another. Neighboring jurisdictions couldn't effectively talk with one another and responders in the field who had equipment dependent on repeater tow- ers couldn't even talk to their own dis- patch centers. "Interoperability" became the new buzzword for the communications industry. No matter what kind of radio you had; no matter what band or fre- quency it used; no matter whether it was mounted in your car, handheld, in a station—no matter what the differences were, the industry faced the challenge of making every radio talk to every other radio. The concept of "radio agility" was born in the midst of the challenge. While some companies built central station solutions which required one radio from every participating agency be plugged The frst handheld radio came into being in 1940 and was built by the Galvin Mfg. Co. (what became Motorola). The handy talkie allowed for two- way communications in a package that you could carry on your back (originally) or in your hand (after further development).

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