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Suggestions for memorizing map/street layout


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  • Suggestions for memorizing map/street layout

    Hi everyone,

    The department I hope to start with is an 11 Square Mile town of about 15K people. The main "downtown" has three major east-west streets, and about 20 named cross streets (with no logical naming system). Outside that area the streets are your usual mish-mash of random names, following no logical layout.

    I'm nervous about how to remember street names and locations. It's not something that I'm naturally very good at anyway. The last thing I want to be doing is looking up directions when another officer requests emergency backup.

    I realize the streets with an above average call for service rate will probably get imprinted in my brain pretty quickly, but I'm curious if there are other officers out there that can either tell me to calm down and not worry, that it will come quickly enough with experience, or offer me any tips besides sitting and staring at a map.

    Thanks in advance!

  • #2
    If you get hired on with this department you need to remember....

    A) The more experienced officers will help you out and give you tips on how to best figure out the cities layout.

    B) While there may not seem to be any logical layout, trust me, there is usually a method to the madness.
    This show is awesome, wrapped in supercool and smothered in bitchin. The only way it could be cooler is if he was riding a unicorn or something.



    • #3
      What I did during my FTO period helped me alot. At the end of the day I would look at a printed map of my District and remember all my runs for the day. I would mentally associate and remember the run while looking at the map. By mentally retracing my day, at the end of the day, helped me to remember the geography alot quicker.

      It sounds like your area is fairly small and you will get it quicker than you might think.

      Good luck.


      • #4
        1) I would split a map up into easily digestible sections and memorize one section and then move on to the next. Memorize sections 1 and 2 and then move on to the next, etc.

        2) Your cars should have maps in case you need them. Sometimes you just get a brain freeze.


        • #5
          Find landmarks things that dont move or change like rivers, bridges, government buildings etc. Orient them in your mind to the MAJOR streets and aves. Then the other ones all fall in to little categories with experience and call responses to those locations.


          • #6
            This is one of the most common issues that new officers have. It is also one of the more frustrating aspects both for new officers and their Field Training Officers. Rookies get stressed out and mad because they dont know where the f*** they are or where they are going and their FTO gets made at them for the same thing, the rookie then gets more stressed out because their FTO is now upset. Here are a couple of things I learned both from when I was a rookie and now as an FTO;

            1) At first focus on knowing where you are RIGHT NOW. You need to be aware of your current location, maybe not the exact address, but at least the closest cross street. Sometimes things happen right in-front of us or to us and you need to at least know where you are so others can get to you

            2) If you need to, look up how to get there in the map for every call and memorize the route. Even if you look up an address where you already know the route, seeing it on paper will re-enforce your memory. Think "West on Central, Pass Kettering, Left on Campus, Left on Joyceton." You will also discover short-cuts which were previously unknown to you.

            3) SLOW THE F*** DOWN. Going 100 mph in the wrong direction gets you that much more lost that much faster.

            4) As nerdy as it may be study your maps. If you can listen to your radio or scanner at home, listen to your channel and then look the call up on the map. Then when the next call goes out, plan a route from the previous call to the new one.

            5) While your FTO is "meditating", drive around, go into unfamiliar areas and an "get lost", then find your way back out.

            6) This is probably the coolest method: If your agency has an aviation unit, go up with them. I took a flight with ours and they took me right to my sector. It gives you a completely different view of the area. Plus its a hell of a lot of fun. Try do do it in the winter though when the leaves are off the trees and the air isnt hazy.

            Your FTO, hopefully, will understand that you may have no idea where you are and will at least be somewhat patient. I had to check myself a couple times by remembering that 5 years ago I didn't know where anything was either. And don't worry, unless your FTO is a straight Adam Henry, they wont let you flounder around lost while one of your squad mates is in a foot pursuit, or some other hot call goes out, they will start barking directions to get you there so you can write it.
            Errare humanum est, sed perseverare diabolicum
            To err is human, but to persist is diabolical


            • #7
              A big thanks to everyone, both those who gave practical tips, and those who just made me feel like I'm not the first person to have this concern/problem. I think I wasn't thiking about the experience a new officer builds during FTO. I just saw thhe whole city as one big problem, and couldn't get past the whole "How the eff am I ever going to remember that Smith St is between Elm and 3rd St?" idea.

              Of all the things to worry about at this stage in the process, this probably rates pretty low on the list, but I'm just not very good with memorizing maps and directions, so I was panicking about it.

              I will go off now and worry about things that are relevant today, like getting into better physical shape and digging up the mailing address for every job I've ever had.


              • #8
                You have to drive the streets to know them. You will learn the big ones riding, but have to drive the others. Also, when someone else gets a call, even when you know where it is, grab a map and look at the fastest way to get there from where you are, saying every street name out loud as you do so. Last, don't be scared to ask dispatch for a cross street if you need one.
                Originally posted by Ceridwen
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