Printer Friendly

Patrolman Finds Helmet Kit Offers Clear Two-Way Transmission.

Riding a motorcycle and talking on a two-way radio at the same time is difficult enough, but for motorcycle police in hot pursuit, the task not only becomes more difficult, it becomes dangerous. A policeman in San Mateo, California, has overcome this problem with what he feels is the ideal solution, a helmet communications kit that allows him to transmit without holding a microphone and to hear through speakers in his helmet.

Officer Pete Bahnmueller explains why he went from the traditional microphone to the helmet kit. "At the time I switched over to the system, which uses a one-watt portable radio on the belt, i was using the 15-watt radio that was on the motorcycle. That system was fine with regard to power, but I had some problems with it, probably the same problems law-enforcement officers have everywhere."

Specifically, Bahnmueller points to the danger in pursuing a suspect while operating a motorcycle and communicating with a hand-held microphone at the same time. "You're trying to track someone down while going fast, and at the same time doing one of the most important things a policeman does, which is communicating with dispatch . . . to have to take one of your hands off the handlebars to do it is very unsafe. I decided that I didn't want to do that."

After doing some checking around, Bahnmueller discovered that a number of other police departments were using Setcom's Motorcycle Officer Helmet Communications Kit to solve the problem. As a result of conversations with other motorcycle policemen from other departments using the hands-free system, Bahnmueller decided to try the helmet kit himself. "We have a very good police department in that we are allowed to search out and try new things as long as it doesn't interfere with any of the current devices. So I contacted Setcom," he explains.

Two of Bahnmueller's requirements for any two-way device are high-quality transmission and the ability to transmit from anywhere in San Mateo. "Number one, I wanted something that would ensure I would be heard very clearly by other officers on the road and by the dispatcher. Number two, I wanted a system that would be effective in various geographic locations. Due to the city's topography, we have areas where there are little valleys with radio blind spots."

Self-Releasing Cables

Concerned about the quality of transmission from the helmet kit, Bahnmueller made a thorough investigation, polling other officers and dispatchers to make certain the transmission quality was what he wanted it to be. "I've converted over to the combination belt-box system that hooks up to the motorcycle radio and the portable radio. The quality is unbelievable! I've listened to transmissions of myself on the tape in dispatch and its unbelievable."

Having speakers in the helmet, so only the patrolman can hear transmissions from dispatch, has also proved to be a benefit. Bahnmueller credits the helmet kit for making arrests easier by not tipping off suspects when a warrant has been issued for their arrest. Bahnmueller explains, "One of the things most people don't understand is that bad guys know the police radio codes. When checking out a suspect, I make a motion to all of the officers at the scene to turn their radio speakers off while I leave mine on. The Setcom system cancels the outside speaker on the portable radio and I have the dual speakers at my ears. When checking for wants or warrants on the bad guy, the response will be heard solely by me through the speakers in my helmet. If we have confirmation that the person is wanted, I make a motion to the other officers and before the suspect knows it, the handcuffs are on . . . the suspect never had the chance to run away."

To ensure that his radio transmissions could be heard all over, Bahnmueller converted from a portable-radio-compatible configuration to a combination portable and motorcycle radio setup. "Basically, the original system worked solely off the portable radio," he explains. "A one-watt radio used in a city like San Mateo is not always strong enough to transmit or receive in various locations in the city--dead spots. While I was on the motorcycle, I had 15 watts of power while using the motorcycle radio, which was sufficient to be heard throughout the city. In fact, for various reasons, I have ridden my police motorcycle as far away as Monterey or Sacramento (points in excess of 50 to 70 miles away). I have used the combination belt-box system and have communicated with San Mateo dispatch clearly and cleanly."

Since he began using the Setcom system, Bahnmueller has changed from the single-speaker version helmet kit to the dual-speaker kit. "When I initially got the setup, I chose a single-speaker version helmet," Bahnmueller says. "I wanted to be able to hear what the motorist was saying without getting it mixed with the dispatcher's voice."

The patrolman found that the additional speaker didn't inhibit his ability to hear in a conversation with a motorist. By simply lowering the volume on the portable, when using the portable, or flicking the selector switch on his belt-box to "motorcycle radio," he is able to cut off the audio to his helmet, while still hearing the radio speaker on the motorcycle.

Bahnmueller reports that as a result of his recommendation, the San Mateo Police Department has included Setcom helmet kits in its budget proposal, with plans to provide the entire traffic unit with helmet kits. Bahnmueller has learned to depend on his helmet kit, saying, "I've got a piece of equipment here that I think, in a critical situation, could save my life."
COPYRIGHT 1985 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1985 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:Communications News
Date:Aug 1, 1985
Previous Article:RF Field-Service Monitor Spans Gap between Analog and Digital.
Next Article:Cellular System Operators Offer New Services to Increase Subscriber Base.

Related Articles
Helmet and headset-microphone kit.
Advanced combat helmet ... a new helmet for a new age.
It's only fitting.
Night vision device helmet mounts.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2016 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters