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September 28, 2010
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John Rivera Technology Helpdesk
with John Rivera

P1 Tech Help: Rockin' while you're rollin'

This month I’m going to focus on something a little different. We all know that we patrol officers spend a great amount of time during a shift in our mobile office — um, I mean our squad car — and that many of us patrol our assigned beat alone in that car. I was recently assigned to the graveyard shift and quickly learned that even criminals eventually go to bed. In other words, it gets lonely at night. So, along with my patrol radio scanning the other agencies’ frequencies, I began listening to a local ‘Classic Rock’ radio station to help pass those hours during patrol. I soon found myself wanting to listen to my choice of music or particular artist — not just what the radio station playlist happened to be.

Then, I was assigned a new patrol vehicle and new car partner. I got in my new patrol car and noticed a device in the power strip and saw it had a flash (thumb) drive attached to it. I started the car for the shift and the device started blinking and started playing a music selection I knew not played by any radio station. After a very short investigation I noticed the device was a MP3 modulator and it was playing music from the flash drive.

I remembered doing research on these types of modulators a year ago and finding several negative reviews on them. I’d regarded them as a flash in the pan, but this modulator played well with no interruption from my car radio or other electronic transmissions.

I researched this item again and found there to be a plethora of these modulators offered by many online electronic stores. Some need the aforementioned flash drive attached to it, others can have music directly uploaded from your computer to them and some even have a space for an SD memory card (SD memory cards are the square memory typically used in a digital cameras but can be used for other digital media storage) and then attached to the power strip of your car. And for those who have need a remote fix, some FM modulators even have a remote.

The way modulators work is they have several FM (Frequency Modulation) frequencies pre-programmed into them. FM stereo radios always have several frequencies that are not used, typically in the 88.0 or the 107.0 megahertz range. Once you power up the modulator you can find an FM frequency that is not used by a radio station, press play on the modulator and then enjoy your own favorite music mix or favorite audio book.

I know many of you officers, deputies, and constables have purchased an Apple iPod or other MP3 player and then purchased a modulator or accessory cable so you can hear it through your standard car stereo. I’ve had many conversations with my coworkers explaining why I never bought an iPod (because I can get the same entertainment from a less expensive MP3 player) but regardless of which MP3 player you choose, they sure can help keep one’s sanity during those sometime long pauses in between calls.

PLEASE NOTE: I am in no way advocating this or any other non-issued personal electronic device against your agency policies. Review your agency policies and be sure that using such a setup does not violate them. For the most part, I believe your particular agency will not prohibit the use of them as long as it does not interfere with your safety and work performance.

Until next month. Stay Safe.

About the author

John Rivera is a Patrol Officer with the Bremerton Police Department. John’s career BPD started as a Volunteer Reserve Officer and while he volunteered his time as a reserve officer he work as Police Officer at Naval Base Kitsap. He was hired full time in 2006 and attended the Washington State Police Academy. While at the academy, John was selected as the class “Techy” to help with the technologically deficient class instructors. Before John’s law enforcement career, he gained his computer experience through earning a degree in Computer Programming and then working in the computer industry as a Network Administrator and Systems Engineer for several companies.

Contact John Rivera

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