There is actually a purpose to this blog

Scott Adams - the writer of the 'Dilbert' comic strip - once described a Mission Statement as 'a long, complicated paragraph demonstrating management's inability to think clearly.' Therefore, I'll not call this a mission statement.

This blog is dedicated to informing civilian Park Rangers about topics routine taught to police officers but almost unknown to most of us who wear a uniform, work alone, and confront potentially dangerous on a frequent basis.

This blog is intended to offer suggestions based on my experience, and on my understanding of Maryland Law. It may be different where you are.

That's my mission.

Monday, January 24, 2011


Maybe not static. Maybe, in today's digital age, just nothing.

You are out in the boonies. There is a compelling reason to talk to somebody by phone or hand held radio, but you can't quite reach them. With a digital phone, you just won't hear anything - same for a digital 800 MHz radio. With an analog radio, you might just hear static or maybe the repeater audio, filled with noise. Just not good enough to use.

This might work; it has worked for me.

Stand on the runningboard of your patrol vehicle and put the radio close to the center of the steel roof (not a convertable top or fiberglass roof of some kind - just metal) and try transmitting. (With your cell phone, move it around to see if you can pick up more 'antennas.') Most probably, you will be able to cover more distance on both receive and transmit. Maybe not enough, but it might just work.

I have been able to transmit through a repeater about thirteen miles away using just 1/4 watt, when I couldn't hit it at all merely holding the radio in my hand.

Other thoughts that will make a difference are:
  • Both of the radio antennas need to be oriented vertically, not at opposite angles. One radio with a vertical antenna and one held sideways can result in a loss of 90% or more effective signal.
  • Don't stand close behind a building or big truck.
  • If you are behind a tall hill, move farther back; the signal experiences a 'radio shadow' close behind an obstacle.
  • Don't be cute - don't hold the radio upside down, with your hand on the antenna.
  • Keep the radio away from your body. (By the same token, you can use this method to help you find a transmitter by keeping it close to your body and turning to where you get the strongest signal.)
  • In an emergency - say you are injured and need assistance, for example - you may be able to get your message through if you have a touch pad on your handheld by using Morse Code. [You don't know Morse Code? Everyone knows ... --- ... means 'SOS.' If you are very lucky, someone will eventually ask, "Does someone have an emergency?" Switch then to the '1 beep for yes, two beeps for no' technique. It might work. Hopefully]
  • Move around. I have seen just a short distance - maybe two feet - make a tremendous difference.
  • Keep your battery charged but don't keep it on the charger all the time. If you don't use it often, charging for one shift a week is more than enough.

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