By Courtney Levin, Police1 BrandFocus Staff
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Efficient and effective communication is essential in law enforcement, and whether you’re conducting a routine traffic stop or managing a crisis response, being able to rely on your equipment is key.
For decades, two-way radios have been the benchmark for police communication, and despite the creation of FirstNet, agencies have found that land mobile radio meets many of their interoperability needs. However, there are some instances where LMR technology may not provide the clarity that officers require, leading some to turn to push-to-talk devices.
Intended as a complimentary communication method to LMR, push-to-talk or push-to-talk over cellular (PoC) uses the same technology that all of us have come to rely on daily with our personal cellular devices.
Law enforcement agencies have implemented PoC in several ways, with some using specific PoC phones and others opting for push-to-talk apps installed on department-issued mobile phones.
As more officers have seen how LMR and PoC technology complement each other, the demand for push-to-talk communication has taken off in recent years. Even so, some find themselves wishing that some aspects of PoC were a little more user-friendly.
“PoC is the convenience to talk to a whole team with one button. But what if you could keep your phone in your pocket, talk via a push-to-talk button on a microphone and achieve the same thing?” said Ruben Scheimberg, owner of Earphone Connection.
For over 20 years, Earphone Connection has provided law enforcement agencies with communication equipment that offers efficiency, safety and reliability. In addition, those who are bringing PoC technology into their department find that the accessories designed by Earphone Connection bring an extra level of convenience and help to complete their push-to-talk set-up.
WHERE PUSH-TO-TALK REALLY SHINES
Those in law enforcement are sometimes hesitant to adopt new technology, particularly when proven systems like LMR have their advantages. Yet those who have integrated PoC into their department have found this method of communication can be truly beneficial.
Push-to-talk technology can be useful for day-to-day operations, however, officers often find that using both LMR and PoC during emergencies offers the best combination of effective and efficient response. For example, officers can communicate with others on-site using encrypted land mobile radio while those off-site can be reached via cell at the touch of a button.
The discreet nature of cell phones featuring PoC capabilities also comes in handy during plainclothes operations. Officers can connect wired headphones to the phone in their pocket and, through a push-to-talk app, communicate with multiple individuals while maintaining their cover.
PoC communication can assist agencies in many scenarios where relying only on LMR may result in a subpar outcome. The real heroes of this technology, however, are the accessories that enhance the benefits that push-to-talk can provide.
A DEVICE FOR EVERY OCCASION
The PoC accessories available from Earphone Connection provide different options to meet individual officer preferences. Some equipment is ideal for day-to-day operations while other accessories might be better suited for specific tasks.
Designed for the ultimate level of convenience, the Interceptor is a Bluetooth speaker microphone that can be used with a two-way radio and a smartphone PoC app simultaneously. Its large battery offers up to 20 hours of talk time, even when connected to two Bluetooth-enabled devices.
Similar to other Earphone Connection accessories, the Interceptor features two push-to-talk buttons yet hosts a wealth of other benefits that make it easy to communicate while on the job. Those who need to be more discreet can plug an earpiece into the Interceptor’s 3.5 mm audio jack, and its lightweight design is both ergonomic in your hand and can clip onto a shirt without feeling heavy.
“Another great feature on the back of the microphone is the LED to let you know when you’re powered up and you’re paired to another device,” said Scheimberg. “That light will time out after 10 seconds so there’s no glow giving an officer away at night.”
Not only is the Interceptor a great choice for PoC communication but its design helps to keep officers safe while on duty. The microphone element is situated on top of the microphone, instead of on the front by the speaker grill, allowing officers to talk in any direction and still be heard.
“When the microphone element is in front of the microphone, you actually have to tilt your head and talk down, which is tactically very unsafe,” said Scheimberg. “You’ve just lost your attention of your surroundings, but with the Interceptor, it will pick up your voice evenly no matter where you talk.”
Featuring the same dual-link connectivity that can pair with both a two-way radio and a smartphone, the E2 provides hands-free PoC convenience in a headset. Officers can enjoy using the E2 for up to 12 hours and can listen to audio from both connected sources at the same time, if needed.
While the Interceptor’s two push-to-talk buttons are positioned close to one another, the E2 separates them between the earpiece and the boom. Dual microphones provide true noise cancellation, making the E2 ideal for law enforcement officers who need to communicate clearly in louder environments.
Adopting push-to-talk technology typically stems from an officer’s desire for convenience, and with no wires acting as a hindrance, the Nighthawk relies on Bluetooth technology to provide reliable communication.
Designed to be worn on the body, officers can use a range of earpieces to securely listen to information transmitted via two-way radio or cell phone.
“If you’re on the radio and you have your cell phone connected and a phone call came in, the button on the bottom will answer the phone while you’re still on the radio,” said Scheimberg. “You don’t have to hang up either the radio or the phone to continue communicating.”
The Nighthawk offers full shift, 12-plus hour talk time and can be paired with a remote push-to-talk button which can be attached to a steering wheel, pistol grip or even placed around your finger.
While PoC technology has proven itself to be a secure and reliable form of communication, some law enforcement officers still find themselves skeptical of using Bluetooth for sensitive transmissions. Devices like the Nighthawk, however, can be a valuable option that assists officers in doing their jobs that much easier.
THE FUTURE OF COMMUNICATION IS HERE
When LMR was invented, no one could envision the technology behind push-to-talk and how convenient it would become. Now, when safety, reliability and efficiency are available at literally the touch of a button, the scenarios in which officers can use PoC communication and its accessories are endless.
Visit Earphone Connection for more information.
Read next: Spotlight: Why having an earpiece should be a staple of every police uniform