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Police Officer Exam Cram: Applying Geographical Orientation to the Police Exam

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This chapter explains the concepts of street grids and address placement and their importance to developing direct routes to locations.
This chapter is from the book

Importance of Geographical Orientation in Police Work

A successful police officer must be able to find an address quickly. This skill can be easily developed over a period of time after understanding the basic principles of street layout in your assigned patrol area. Global Positioning System (GPS) devices are now very common and affordable. Furthermore, the majority of patrol cars are equipped with Mobile Data Terminals (MDTs). When an emergency call is dispatched, the dispatcher will usually broadcast the call over the police radio so that officers can start heading in the direction where the help is needed. The dispatcher then sends the details of the call on the MDTs. MDTs are mostly ruggedized laptop computers mounted on specially designed mounts for police cars. Along with the capability to receive call details from central dispatch, some of these laptops also have integrated GPS devices.

GPS devices allow dispatch to know your location at all times, which is a great advantage to officer safety. In police work, it’s very important to know where you are located at all times. You might wonder why you still need to be aware of your location at all times with all this advancement in technology—this is important for two reasons:

  • If you need help from backup officers in case of an emergency, you might not have time to look at your portable GPS device to know your location, or you might be out of your vehicle and not have access to the GPS device. If you know where you are, you can easily tell the other officers your location.
  • If you are given an emergency run, you will be able to figure out promptly where you need to go, and the fastest way to get there.

In police work, it’s also important to know your jurisdiction. If you’re out of your jurisdiction, you may or may not be able to enforce laws or make an arrest. Most of the time, law enforcement agencies work together and at times overlap in jurisdiction.

Also important is your assigned area of patrol. Because you are assigned to this area, you are responsible for the calls for help in that area. If the dispatcher dispatches a run, you should be able to recognize by the address whether it is in your assigned area of patrol and volunteer to take the run. This tells your supervisors that you are not just taking care of your district, you are also listening and paying attention to what is going on in and around your area of patrol.

The geographical orientation portion of the test is designed to test your ability to find your target location in a reasonable amount of time.

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