10 Tips for Ride-Alongs
Dr. Richard Weinblatt
4) Don’t Touch!
Most officers will give you a tour of the car when you start the shift. They’ll show you the radio that is their lifeline to communications. As the officers and tele-communicators in PoliceLink-land know, the dispatcher is an important person to the responding law enforcer. If they are in trouble, the radio is the conduit for getting help.
Don’t play with the radio or change the frequency channel. Officers are very protective of the controls in their “cockpit.” If they do instruct you to call for help, or you have to do so when they can’t, press the button on the side of the microphone for a moment to allow the repeater to kick in. Then talk clearly and succinctly. Let go of the button to allow the dispatcher and other units to talk. Be sure to know which is the radio microphone and which is the public address (P.A.) mike.
And while we’re at it, don’t touch the radio to change the station or CD. Depending on departmental regulations, some officers with take home cars are able to install satellite radio, CDs, and other audio devices. The same goes for the in-car computer. This is their mobile office and they spend eight, ten, twelve plus hour shifts in this environment. They have preferences on how things are arranged and will not appreciate a visitor altering things without being requested to do so.