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Learning the Town


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  • Learning the Town

    I have a problem, I absolutely positively love this work. I am currently an auxilary officer in a town (basically we are a 2nd officer in the car) and I just love to do this. I am starting to apply to other towns in hope of getting hired. The thing that scares me is that I SUCK with directions and street names. I have been doing the auxilary thing in my small suburb for almost a year and I still struggle with streets that I don't see too often. I know I don't drive them everyday, but I am worried that when I get hired by a pd I will be fired because lack of knowledge of the street. Do you guys know good ways to learn streets of your city? I know its probably not a common problem but its getting on my nerves.
    Rock Out with your Glock out
    "If you can't hit em......Crown Vic em"

  • #2
    MAPSCO? (filler to lengthen post)


    • #3
      Repetition,repetition,repetition,.It will be different when you are driving and not just riding.Also while on patrol and it is slow DONT,take the same routes all the time ,explore,learn shortcuts etc.You will be suprised how often you will say to yourself "holy crap,I didn't know this road came out here."I patrol a parish of 750 sq.miles,I just moved here 4 years ago,Dapples has lived here all her life and has to ask me where certain roads are and whats the best routes.
      Sleeping Giant. They're not fat and happy anymore. They are hungry and increasingly angry. That is not a good recipe for a "Puppies and Rainbows America".


      • #4
        Being geographically challenged may be a more common problem than you think. Some guys catch on fast and remember all the names & locations.

        Others , like myself , struggle and have to rely on maps.

        I've found that it may take me a couple extra minutes to reference the maps...but I'm the only one who recognizes my shortfall.

        Therefore .... it's not very bothersome. Two minutes doesn't impact many situations.
        Rule #1 - If it doesn't change supper it's not worth the worry.
        Rule #10 - YOU ARE NOW THE MINORITY. This country is no longer the one your parents knew. You will not be able to understand it. You will not be able to change it. You must learn to live with it.


        • #5
          Don't just look at maps, draw your own. My first FTO made me start at one end of a major feeder street and write in all the cross streets. Doesn't have to be scale or anything, just a line vertically with the names of the cross streets horizontally. Seeing the name then writing it down helps to use the different styles of learning and reinforces everything into your brain.


          • #6
            I struggled with it too...
            don't be afraid to pull over and take a quick look at a map.

            I drove around on my days off also...


            • #7
              Thank god for agency issued laptop with Microsoft street and trips installed. Just have to supply your own gps and you always know where you are..... until the laptop crashes.


              • #8
                I work in a county that is > 1800 square miles. I can run code 3 for an hour or more at times. If it's one thing I've learned, maps are your freind.


                • #9
                  Every time you hear a call dispatched, whether it's yours or not, plan a route from wherever you are to wherever the call is, taking into account traffic patterns and time of day. You might find that you're spending most of the shift with your face buried in a map book, but that time will pay off. Do the same thing on your days off. Get a scanner and plot routes from where to are to a broadcasted address. Then, when the next call is broadcast, plan your route from the last address to the new one.

                  If that phrase "map book" threw you, they're a lot easier to manage in a car than the large fold-out kind. The ones I used in my EMT days were published by Thomas Bros., but I don't know if they do them nationally or if they're even still in business. They weren't real cheap, but well worth the investment.

                  As you're driving around, make notes about distinctive signs, geographical features, etc. For instance, we had a motel that had this huge red-and-black bull painted on one exterior wall. Most people got so used to seeing it that they just stopped seeing it. But if you got a call to a hospital, and the victim there told you that they got mugged and all they can remember about the location was this big red and black bull, that kind of detail might be very valuable.

                  If there are any freeways in your town, know that most (if not all) states have standardized on exit numbers being equivalent to mile markers. Exit 231 is going to be very close to five miles from Exit 236, and there may be no exits between (exits used to be numbered sequentially without regard to distance). For each exit, know the feeder streets, and also the local names that people assign to them. For instance, you won't find "Bayshore Freeway" on many maps, but anyone that lives around San Francisco knows that this refers to US 101 between San Francisco and San Jose. "The ECR" in the same area is the El Camino Real, a very long street that parallels US 101 and takes you through most of the cities on the western side of SF Bay. Every community has names like this.
                  Tim Dees, now writing as a plain old forum member, his superpowers lost to an encounter with gold kryptonite.


                  • #10
                    Go to your local Auto Club and obtain a map for your community. While you are riding on patrol, open the map and align yourself to local landmarks visually and on the map. Then, periodically, study the map and try to identify the land marks in relation to where you point to on the map.

                    Just a point of information: MOST cities are layed out with the even numbers of buildings located on the south and east sides of a street; odd numbers are on the north and west sides. Building numbering generally begins at the center of the community and expands outward.

                    Streets that are numbered like 1st street, 2nd street, etc usually start at the South border of the city and get larger towards the north. Or, they start at the West border and continue East.

                    Lettered streets are more likely to start in the center of a city and go out in one direction.

                    Avenues run north and south.

                    Boulevards run east and west.

                    Ways and Courts are not through streets.

                    Just some old fashioned stuff. Not always right, but fairly much so for older cities.
                    Last edited by SgtCHP; 04-05-2007, 08:23 AM.
                    Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence!

                    [George Washington (1732 - 1799)]


                    • #11
                      I have the same problem with streets and road names, the area i police and have done for tha past 3 years still gives me problems. Saying that the longer you patrol there the better it becomes. (we are on a smaller scale to you guys though).


                      • #12
                        Definitely buy a few tanks of gas, some maps, and just cruise with your own car. You'll learn a few things.


                        • #13
                          All good advice here. Map books, drawing maps, memorizing hundred blocks, driving around, using different routes are all good techniques.

                          One caveat about the suggestion of running around with scanner on your days off and plotting routes to calls that come out: Don't actually go to the call. Another way to do this without a radio is to have someone you know who knows the city prepare an address scavenger hunt.

                          If you live in a city that is on a grid system, take the time to really learn how the system works. My city starts from the center block and expands in every direction like an X,Y axis.
                          "A fanatic is one who won't change his mind, and won't change the subject." -Winston Churchill

                          "I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts." -Will Rogers

                          "To desire to save these wolves in society may arise from benevolence, but it must be the benevolence of a child or a fool" -Henry Fielding


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