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Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Gladiators OBT (On the Blog Training)

Part 1: Radio Use

Disclaimer: I do not claim to be T4T or a qualified trainer, I am just a guard. I will cover some issues I see (hear) with radio traffic. This is specific to DVI staff, but may be a State wide problem.

1. Always wait 1 – 2 seconds after keying the mic before you start to speak. Hit the button, take a breath, think about what you want to say before you begin to speak; that way you haven't cut off the beginning of your broadcast.

2. Short and sweet. Say what you need to in the shortest amount of time and least amount of words. Example of what not to do: “West corridor, RC medical I have inmates from RC medical that need to return to C and D wing, advise me when you are clear.” Instead of that, how about this: “West corridor, RC medical I have inmates to C and D.” If you have to take a breath in the middle of your radio broadcast, it is WAY TOO LONG. If one of your partners is in serious trouble and only has a brief moment to call for help, you shouldn’t be on the radio too long.

3. When you have an alarm take the time to announce what you have. This is a huge help for responding staff. I remember one time when an Officer had a fight in EH Culinary and he announced it very calmly over the radio before an alarm had sounded. I think he was so calm, no one heard, but I did. He said, “I have a 1 on 1 in EH Culinary.” After I heard that a few moments went by and the alarm went off and control was saying, “Where’s the alarm? Where’s the alarm?” All he did was forget to state who he was and what he needed, but stayed calm enough to clearly announce it. Like a certain Lt. always says, state who you are, where you are, what you got and what do you need.

4. Use the phone when you can instead of the radio. If you need to contact R/C grill - call. Allow them to respond when clear over the radio to alert everyone else of the movement.

5. Don’t raise your voice on the radio unless it is necessary. We all know a few staff members who always have a raised voice on the radio. Whenever they get on the radio for the first time during your shift, it throws you off. It sounds like they should be announcing an Officer assault or something.

6. Use the 10 codes to make things shorter. Also, when you want to get someone on the phone don’t say you’re 20 for 21 or land line me at 5555. Just say 10-21 5555, it sounds nice the other way but takes a few extra seconds longer that could be life or death for your partner in trouble.

7. Hopefully we can get back to using the correct channels for the different programs when we go to a half mainline and half RC population. Right now, it seems everyone uses channel 1. Certain positions are supposed to scan the other channels due to movement. Otherwise, remain on the channel your program is pre-determined.

8. When your radio starts to beep, get a fresh battery as soon as possible. You may be able to hear everything but will not be able to broadcast when you need to.

9. If you can’t hear your radio in your work area, get an ear piece. This will also stop inmates from hearing what is going on somewhere else. Like when all the chow halls are orchestrated to go off at the same time.

10. If you have a false alarm in you area, announce that you do on the radio, but make sure you say who you are. Just don’t say, “False alarm in Y-Dorm.” It would be better to announce, “Control, Officer Smith, it appears to be a false alarm in Y-Dorm, waiting on a supervisor.”

11. Allow other transmission communications to complete. Unless you have an emergency, allow them to finish their communication. We have to pay attention to our surroundings, do so for the radio also. None of us like to get “stepped on” when we try to radio a communication so WE need to be patient and wait when we hear a communication being transmitted. Allow an answer to return to the original transmitter before starting your own. Supervisors (Sgt.s and Lieutenants) are worse than officers, but we all need correcting.


1. Why do Sergeants always have to announce on the radio after an alarm sounds, “Code twos to Center Corridor”? I never hear RC1 say that to their staff. If it is such a problem with staff responding to Center than get the Supervisors to Supervise. If I was the Lt. I would ask the Sgt. “How many code two responders do you have in your program and where are they?” As a Sgt. go to the units to ask why the code two responder did not respond.

2. Why do the Supervisors always have to ask, “what is your status” during an alarm if they hear nothing after about 20 seconds? This goes with the first question. I think that once an alarm sounds and a staff member announces it, only control should respond with the alarm location. After that there should be radio silence until a staff member on scene can come across with their status. If you do, please take a moment to step away from other radios to announce what you have or what you need so there is no interference when you speak. Remember… an alarm is considered a possible EMERGENCY. I know we get a lot of false alarms but it only takes the one real alarm where staff could be injured or assaulted. Stay radio silent and wait for instructions.

3. Since when do Watch Sergeants clear the red light through control?  My understanding is that the Watch Commander and only him clears alarms through control.  If he leaves the area another Lt should be cross covering.

4. Why does the department not have a special code for staff assaults? If you see a staff assault you can simply say 11-99 C-Wing. This way staff  respond right away and know what to expect. They may assume it is a false alarm when it sounds since we get so many. You can also go a step further and have a code like 10-11 for inmate on inmate with G.B.I involved.  I come from Riverside County and if I remember correctly the Sheriffs use 3 codes for assistants. 10-11 is for a single car backup. 11-11 is for multiple units to respond. 11-99 is when all hell breaks loose. In one of my college classes my teacher (a Riverside PD Sergeant) played us a tape of a 11-99 call. Two Officers had pulled over a van and when they approached the driver, got out and started shooting. One of the Officers called dispatch with "11-99 shots fired, Officer down." One of the Officers did lose his life unfortunately. The point is, we need something quick and easy we can say if you or a partner are in immediate trouble. This way if you hear on the radio 11-99, you know a partner of yours is in serious danger and needs immediate help.

5. Did I miss anything?

Suggestion for staff: get a police scanner or download a scanner app to your phone. Listen to how police and fire departments communicate with dispatch. Staying calm, to the point and radio silent as much as possible helps dispatch share needed information, your partners know when and if backup is needed, and conveys the severity of the situation. If you yell or have attitude with your partners all the time, people disregard the transmission more. Click here to be linked to a Scanner online to listen too.


Anonymous said...

On this same note may I add a little about?

When you hear someone on the radio call for someone else, they have just bought that time. Allow the person they are calling time to respond.

B-Polished said...

Know it all,
A lot of good points brought up in this piece. We can all agree that the radio training we get is a joke if it exist at all.

Everyone gets irritated of those that yell over the radio for nothing or step on others transmissions. If you don't, your probably the one doing it.

I remember working an S&E position on 2nd watch during chow movement. The culinary Sgt. transmitted over the radio: "CENTER, HOLD UP MOVEMENT- CHOW HALL 2 IS DOWN"!
We took off running to respond. as we turned the corner, the Sgt. replied "Be advised, Chow Hall 2 is out of Food".

Looking back, it was funny. But someone could have gotten hurt during the response to a Chow Hall out of food.
I'm Just Sayin...

Unknown said...

And to all the Units that need paper trays for inmates instead of calling for them over the radio call Dining Hall#3....the number is in your DVI directory.

Anonymous said...

Instead of 10-100, just say "I am on the shitter, leave me the F*** alone"

Anonymous said...

The training regarding the radio is fine. What is not fine is that if you are working in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and in Custody, your classification is "Correctional Officer" not "guard." You must/should have learned that in the C/O Academy. I could go on more on this subject, maybe some other time.

B-Polished said...

Anonymous @ 10:20pm,
I agree about calling ourselves "Correctional Officers" over guards.

Being called a guard has become a derogatory term used by the media meaning that we are over paid, under educated, authority abusing, should be happy to have a job, morally inept state employees. Well, to me, that sounds too much like politicians and union presidents.

I once prided calling myself a 'guard'. It once meant that I was quick to beat that ass and gain some respect... those days are over.

With the scrutiny we now face by the public and our own administrations, we have earned the right to be considered a cut above the rest.

As a Correctional Officer, "I will methodically use my mental dominance to hold you accountable for your actions of disregard for departmental policies, public safety, and personal accountability. And if all else fails, use the necessary force required to subdue a physical attack utilizing departmental approved and trained restraints and holds (which means I will quickly beat that ass and gain some respect, physically AND with a pen )".

But we still need more training on proper radio etiquette.
I'm Just Sayin...

Anonymous said...

The old GUARD is dying out. The new breed of correctional officer is what's blooming. We should all strive to gain more respect from the public and our own administration.

As far as radio training, it's pretty simple: Keep it short, don't step on anybody's transmission. If you hear someone trying to contact someone you wait for the person they are calling to respond. (602THIS was right)