In the heightened state of “ORANGE” posted by the Dept of Homeland Security and in light of the recent events in the Mideast, All amateur operators should be prepared to identify themselves when approached by Law enforcement officials as to what they are doing and what their equipment is.
Be friendly and understanding. Law enforcement has a difficult job in these trying times of heightened security.
Are you active with you ARES/RACES or some other EmComm group?
Carry your FCC License and any other related ID + a real picture ID. Make the job of Law enforcement officers easier and less stressful. If you are operating mobile or portable in the field or on the road, operating mobile, Portable or DX’ing.
Explain to them, "I am a Licensed amateur radio operator” and if you have taken the ARRL EMCOMM courses your may tell them that you are a trained emergency communicator and I'm checking out my field setup.
Education and understanding, dispels suspicion. Try saying to the inquiring officer, “Would you like to see how it all works?"
You never know !!! If the officer has time, he might just take you up on it. Take the time to educate him about amateur radio, both the emergency applications and the fun part of the hobby. If he is interested, explain to the officer about SKYWARN, RACES and ARES also.
You never know, he may just be interested enough to become a new ham in the future or you may just have made a new friend that will understand your hobby.
If you do it the right way, the officer may pass the information on to others in public safety who are not aware of what we do in the Amateur Radio Service.
If you come on with a snotty attitude when stopped by law enforcement, you are doing an injustice to the Amateur Radio Service and to all of your fellow operators.
Negative comments about law enforcement, Firefighters and Emergency Services and their jobs, in general, should be refrained from on the radio. Give them all, a little credit. Quite a few of them are on our side and are already aware of the importance of amateur radio, SKYWARN, RACES and ARES and often have amateur repeater frequencies in the scanners in their patrol cars. On the TARA repeater alone, I know of at least a dozen officers who are hams that are either retired or still active. I would not even fathom to guess how many of our amateur population are firefighters or other emergency services personnel.
I am not saying it will always work, but it doesn’t hurt to be courteous. PLEASE, give it you best effort.
Fraternally in amateur radio,
Kenneth T. Davis A.R.S. KB2KFV (Gen) Retired Police Chief – Village of Green Island, NY
Rensselaer County ARES/RACES group
2nd Radio Officer Rensselaer County RACES
Albany County RACES and ARES Certified Weather Spotter
EMCOMM - Level 1 - certified ARRL/CCE