Over the following years, of course, much upgrading and modernization did occur. The old paper-tape teletypes were replaced by continuous-feed paper machines, and those in turn were replaced by computer terminals. Rotary-dial phones were replaced by touch-tone and Centrex switching. The "Gamewell" system - street-corner callboxes connected to manual patch-cord switchboards - was converted into part of the regular city telephone network. More radio channels on more dependable frequencies and equipment were put into service. But the actual dispatching system remained virtually identical to that of the 1940s.  

 

In the late 1960's, under the direction of Chief Tom Reddin, the department embarked on a mission to see if and how "space age" technologies could be put to use in the long-term by LAPD. It had become apparent that the dispatching system was quickly becoming obsolete, and would not be capable of handling expected call volumes in the 1970s and 1980s. Reddin's staff began working with Hughes Aircraft Company to study the existing communications system's efficiency and effectiveness, and developed a conceptual design for updating it. In 1972, under Chief Edward Davis, Jet Propulsion Laboratories performed a detailed analysis of those ideas, found them to be practical and technically feasible, and proposed a phased implementation over a number of years.


E.C.C.C.S.

 

The culmination of those far-sighted plans was the "Emergency Command Control Communications System" (ECCCS, pronounced "X"), which consisted of five subsystems:

 

  • The ECCCS UHF Radio System
  • Mobile Digital Terminals (MDTs)
  • Computer-Aided Dispatching (CAD)
  • Remote Out-of-Vehicle Emergency Radios (ROVERs)
    (the venerable "workhorse" Motorola MX350s in the beginning)
  • Area Command Centers (ACCs) at local police stations

R.O.V.E.R.s

The first phase was assignment of voice radio channels to uniformed divisions, starting with Central Bureau in March, 1981, Valley Bureau in December of that year, and South and West Bureaus followed in July of 1982.

It should be remembered that, until that time, the technology and costs associated with portable or "handheld" radios made their widespread use impractical in a city as large as Los Angeles. Being able to now equip every officer with his own two-way radio was a real milestone for LAPD and officer safety, as described at the time by Chief Daryl Gates:

 

 

"ROVER, the Remote Out-of-vehicle Emergency Radio is a two-watt, 8-channel, hand-held radio that can be utilized in two environments, portable and mobile. When used as a portable, the officer will always have communications available. A Request for an Automated Want/Warrant System (AWWS) check, for a supervisor or additional information can be made from locations away from the vehicle. There will be approximately 3,500 ROVERs utilized by field forces to increase officer availability, making it possible to contact an officer away from his vehicle on a non-emergency call and reassign him to one of high priority. To utilize ROVER as a mobile radio, it must be inserted into the Converta-com, located under the dashboard. The Converta-Com automatically connects the portable to a mobile microphone, a high power mobile speaker and an antenna.

"Each ROVER is identified by a four digit number. At the beginning of Watch, the officer will notify the RTO of his unit and the ROVER identification number, i.e., "1A12 with ROVERs 6125 and 6126," by voice or via the MDT.

"The ROVER system also has the ability to communicate from one radio to another without having to switch to a tactical frequency. Normal operations occur in the "duplex" mode, in which messages are sent and received by the dispatch center. In duplex operation, the system is repeated. This means that all officers broadcasting from the field will be rebroadcast on the RTO's frequency, incorporating the "cheater" feature in every ROVER. By switching to "simplex," one officer can talk to other officers on the same frequency without talking to the RTO. The RTO transmission will interrupt or override simplex voice transmission. Only those portables that are in close proximity will receive the transmission made in the simplex mode.

"The ROVER is equipped with a unique capability - the emergency trigger. This trigger enables the officer to request help digitally when circumstances prevent the use of voice transmission. When the trigger is activated, the ROVER
automatically switches internally to the emergency channel. The emergency channel is a City-wide frequency utilized for emergency transmissions only. The "help" message is received by the RTO, who will be alerted by a digital and audible alarm on the display console. The RTO must know the unit's last assigned or Code 6 location in order to dispatch help. The ROVER will transmit the digital tone once every five seconds for thirty seconds. The digital ID is correlated to the officer's unit and location. The requesting officer's voice tttransmissions will take priority over the emergency code when the push-to-talk bar is activated. To resume normal operations after the emergency has terminated, the officer simply turns the portable off and then back on.


MDTs

For digital communication with the Mobile Data Terminals in the police cars, it was decided to use the five former VHF "voice" dispatch frequencies, one for each geographic bureau and one for city-wide or back-up use.
  MDTs give officers a second means of communication with the dispatch center and with each other. A significant number of messages do not require voice communications, such as routine status changes and database inquiries.

The MDTs have typewriter-like keyboards, computer-like monitors, and 16 "status" and other standard message buttons.

 

 

Important MDT capabilities include:

 

  • The ability to receive calls for service displayed on a screen, thus reducing voice-radio congestion.
  • Direct access to computerized databases to obtain want/warrant, stolen vehicle, DMV and other information without having to go thru the RadioTelephone Operator.
  • Digital messaging from car to car, to the station or to Communications Division, and
  • One-touch "Officer needs Help," officer needs "assistance," and request "back-up" buttons, which signal Communications the unit's identification and last known location.