Sentinel Handbook

Tips for security, safety, and crime prevention volunteers

Carry A Cellphone On Duty

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One piece of invaluable equipment that everyone should have with them, on duty or on patrol, is a cellphone. Used responsibly, a cellphone will make your job much easier and replace several pieces of equipment at the same time. Most basic functions of a cellphone do not require an active calling plan to allow the phone to operate. Making emergency calls to 9-1-1 is free anywhere within the U.S. as long as you have signal.

Basic Phones: (Most functions do not require active Minutes/Phone Plan)

  • Camera
  • Video
  • Audio recorder
  • Store emergency numbers
  • PDA, Personal Data Assistant, for making notes and memos
  • Text
  • Basic Call Plan (May dial 9-1-1 without active minutes or phone plan anywhere in the U.S.)

Smartphones: (Most functions require active Minutes/Phone Plan)

  • Information Apps, such as Emergency Responders Handbook, Basic First Aid Manual
  • Apps, such as a scanner for EMS, fire, and police
  • GPS
  • Data Transfer
  • Maps / Navigation

When on duty, I prefer to use the audio recording function when taking notes, or doing an interview. Doing so only uses one hand, allows for taking notes faster, can be referred to again later for clarification, and allows you to maintain awareness of your surroundings instead of focusing on a notepad.

The camera and video capabilities are great for capturing images for evidence. Recording suspicious activities for later playback to police when they arrive is a huge plus. Data stored on the SD card can be given over to officers as evidence if required.

Texting allows officers and supervisors to send instructions and important message, which are stored and time stamped. Many places do not allow the use of cellphones, even with hands-free capabilities, while operating a vehicle. Sending a text allows a message to be received that can then be accessed when no longer driving.

Often there are conversations that are best not aired over radio channels. Sensitive information that needs to be relayed privately and securely can be done by cellphone if a land line is not immediately available.

Things To Avoid:

  • Non-essential texting – maintain awareness of your surroundings
  • Non-duty related calls
  • Playing games and other distractions
  • Updating Facebook and other social media as this reveals your location and activities that can be tracked by employers, or criminals casing your patrol route to see where you are.
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Written by Silver Sentinel

May 15, 2013 at 9:29 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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