In the interest of public safety and security, the police have been the first to use walkie-talkies in the conduct of their jobs, especially for patrolling and emergency purposes.
It was in 1923 when Senior Constable Frederick William Downie of the Victorian Police in Australia developed the first mobile two-way radio, which paved the way for the birth of police walkie-talkies. But the early device was quite huge and took up the entire back seat of police cars.
Ten years later, the Bayonne police department in New Jersey successfully operated a two-way system between a central fixed station and radio transceivers installed in police cars. This allowed the police to respond directly and quickly to emergencies.
The transceivers or walkie-talkies used in police headquarters are usually the stationary base type similar to the ones installed in patrol cars, although smaller. Individual police officers, on the other hand, use portable hand-held types.
Also during the early years, police walkie-talkies on patrol cars and individual police officers communicate via a specific channel with the headquarters – one radio frequency each for every patrol car and officer. Thus simultaneous dispatch to field units and officers was not possible then.
The evolution of police walkie-talkies
However, police walkie-talkies have since evolved. Now, every walkie-talkie is not just connected to the headquarters but is also interlinked to one another. As their main communications device, the unit is always on. So if a patrol car or an individual police officer is not using it, it automatically becomes a receiver to receive information feeds from the headquarters or other units.
As radio equipment, including modern-day walkie-talkies, became more powerful, compact and easier to use, communications have likewise improved by leaps and bounds between the headquarters and the police field units.
In some ultra-modern countries today, however, police walkie-talkies are now being phased out in favor of smart transceivers with GPS capability. These communications devices already function like a smartphone or a tablet.