911 Emergency - between US Departments: operations, traditions and sirens (second part)

(To Gianluca Celentano)

Rapid understanding of the codes scanned by the on-board radios is essential for driving and interconnecting police cars. It is not difficult to hear a “Ten Four”, the 10-4 for affirmative; 10-7 for an off-duty or a resounding “Ten Double Zero” on 10-00 for ground agent. Cooperation between patrols guarantees, thanks to the large numbers of operators, the intervention of different cars based on need.

From the code alone one must prepare for every operational eventuality and, although there is a lot of respect for the agents, it is not difficult to run into criminals who open fire as soon as they see the red and blue lights symbolizing the United States flag flashing.

Car and cops

The use of vehicles for the police service is very broad; flashy SUVs are widely used, some black, others with two-tone liveries that change from one state to another. In California it is black and white, in New York it is white and blue, in Dallas black and white is replacing blue, while in Arizona, black and silver prevails. The three most used types of vehicles are: Police Pursuit Vehicles (PPV), pursuit vehicles where the Dodge Charger excels, Special Service Vehicles (SSV) generally pickup or SUV e Special Service Package (SSP), the specialists.

The setup provides for the autonomy of the single agent who uses the transmitter microphone fixed on the chest; furthermore, between the seats, a tablet is fixed with the directions from the station which already identifies the position of the subject and the route for the patrol during the emergency call. They are equipped with dash cameras with audio and, in individual equipment, operators wear a bodycam.

In New York the patrol they have bulletproof plates in the front doors and light armor; depending on the type of use, the vehicles also have automatic weapons and helmets for special interventions. The rear seats are isolated for the transport of handcuffed subjects to whom the officer must always read the rights of the arrested person.

The lights (even too many) inserted even in the interior are interesting bull bar front. As for sirens, high propagation systems prevail given the large spaces that would disperse a single or just two-tone sound into the distance. Here, to the rhythmic and fast sound of "UI, UI, UI", the whistle signal or the "horn" is alternately added, used to open the way at intersections. In this case theofficer it becomes a bit of a disc jokey, acting on the central console which controls the direction of the red and blue lights, the type of acoustic signal and its propagation quality. It manages to do everything by itself, including communicating the position, because already in the days of Chevrolets Impala, Plymouth Great fury or Dodge Coronet, patrol they have always used automatic transmission and ergonomic systems designed for the individual operator.

Traditions and the FBI

Due to the choice or maintenance of certain customs in the USA, some traditions have never waned: from the free sale of weapons to the historic bell of firefighters racing on the tanker.

Those who want to venture into the USA without too much experience, be careful: getting arrested is anything but difficult. All you have to do is exceed a speed limit of more than 20 miles per hour, fail to comply with some traffic documents and respond rudely to the officer, to see the handcuffs snap on your wrists. It is useless to trust in the typical Italian joviality and even worse to claim to have some knowledge, or exclaim: “You don't know who I am!!!”.

The FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation it extends with 56 departments in large US cities and with smaller units in smaller towns. It represents the federal police of the United States Government although it has limits on some borders.

The cars are identical to the others patrol, but the livery is white and bears the writing FBI Police, or black with only the optional flashing lights.

As we also see in the films, sometimes there is a certain competition between the FBI and state police and sheriffs, especially in areas of competence.

For those who think that only Italy is the land of many police forces, it is good to remember that at a federal level in the USA there are:

• Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI): responsible for enforcing federal laws and investigating various crimes, including terrorism, espionage, organized crime and cyber;

• United States Secret Service (USSS): Protects the president, vice president, and other key figures. Investigate crimes such as counterfeiting and financial fraud;

• Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF): Controls and regulates the use of firearms, explosives, tobacco and alcohol. Investigate crimes related to these products;

• Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA): fights drug trafficking and enforces federal drug laws;

• US Marshals Service (USMS): protects witnesses, executes federal arrest warrants, and provides security in federal courthouses;

• Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE): Handles immigration and illegal trade issues. Includes the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) division;

• Customs and Border Protection (CBP): protects the borders and ports of entry of the United States;

• Transportation Security Administration (TSA): responsible for security in transportation, including airports and flights;

• Federal Protective Service (FPS): protects federal buildings and manages the security of government facilities;

• Department of Homeland Security (DHS): Oversees many of the agencies listed above and coordinates homeland security efforts;

• National Park Service (NPS) - US Park Police: protects national parks and federal monuments;

state and local agencies...

• State Police / Highway Patrol: each state has a state police force that is primarily concerned with highway safety and cooperation with local law enforcement agencies;

• County Sheriff's Offices: sheriffs are responsible for counties and are responsible for law enforcement and prison management;

• City Police Departments: Municipal police departments manage law enforcement in cities and municipalities;

to which are added the military police of the armed forces!

EVOC, a high level driving school

Today, cars in the USA are predominantly Japanese and identical to European ones in size, sometimes with slightly larger displacements.

There are also hybrids at the NYPD and it's not difficult to come across a Ford Transit or a Fiat Duchy, which overseas is called Dodge Ram Pro Master (next photo).

Driving training for police officers is called EVOC, an acronym for Emergency Vehicles Operation Course, the equivalent for us of “driving fast”. It is generally carried out during the academic course and it is not difficult to find several police and sheriffs from the counties interacting with each other in the classroom and on the circuit. However, there are private driving schools open to customers of the various police forces.

There is a normal tension that is diluted with jokes between operators from different departments. It is clear that there is a sort of unity in the sector and not rivalry even towards the sheriffs who are more or less equivalent to our municipal police. Their tasks change a lot depending on the state and can be only administrative or even very operational.

The training

We start with a narrow path of skittles to warm up a bit, then we move on to maneuvers to train the eye, fluency and intuition in finding the most logical movements, the use of mirrors and the prediction of what might do others. Then everything is repeated in reverse, perhaps with a slalom in reverse.

The perception of speed and lateral ramming is trained, which has two fundamental roles: that of disabling a wheel of the car being chased, and of rotating it dynamically to stop it (see VIDEO). A technique that requires you to descend with the weapon pointed towards the threat and which is part of the tasks shared between the Academy and field training.

It is important not to remain disoriented after a ramming or a head and tail; the continuous tests serve to familiarize one with this traumatic eventuality.

We also dedicate ourselves to U-turn, fast reverse with reversal and resumption of front travel. Useful technique for getting out of ambushes.

The brakes are put to the test, but according to rumors for the Dodge Chargers Pursuit there is an ad hoc reinforced kit.

The current automatic transmissions (which in the USA are mainly with torque converters, considering that weight is not a problem), are now unified with only the four characteristic PRND positions; as on the double clutch it is possible to operate manually, shifting to “M”, for downshift, i.e. downshifting to optimize braking. The course is intensive and aims to change certain driving habits, teaching anticipation on the steering wheel and attention to critical points, management on low-grip surfaces or the control of oversteer through the use of skid car or wet yards and high tire pressure.


We deserve to thank the New York and Los Angeles Police Academies for the quickness , completeness of information, as well as for the friendliness and availability towards "Defense Online".

Also read: "911 Emergency - between US Departments: opportunities and training (first part)"

Photo: LAPD / NYPD / web / FBI / NPS / Corde11