Most law enforcement agencies require annual training in firearms, defensive tactics, CPR and first aid, as well as updates in criminal law and procedure.
Should regular training be required on communications equipment and the procedures for using it? Here are a few topics that could be covered in such training:
- An examination of the radio equipment to ensure that components such as the antenna, batteries and shoulder microphones are in working order. Are you using accessories that aren't approved and might negatively affect your radio transmissions/reception?
- Which software and programming updates are needed to keep the radio equipment current?
- A review of communication nomenclature. Most officers only use a few channels on their radios. Do you know what the others are for? Do you know where the local and national mutual-aid channels are located on your radio? A simple overview of the channels would resolve these questions.
- A review of communications procedures. You suddenly find yourself outside of your agency's radio footprint. Do you know how to request a mutual aid channel from the jurisdiction you're in? The radio system takes a direct hit from a lighting strike. Do you know what to do in a communications-related outage?
Many officers would argue that annual training addressing these areas would be a waste of time, but how much do you remember from your initial training? Did you even receive formal training in the use of your communications equipment?