What is the radio of choice for US police?

Okay, you believed ‘cops’ that isn’t a word we normally use here within the UK. We Brits traditionally often refer, courteously, to our ‘boys in blue’ as ‘bobbies’ or ‘the old bill’.

In any case, given that, I’m going to guess which you’re wondering regarding the American police and their longstanding enterprise with the Motorola Corporation. OK, here goes…

Reported by Motorola’s own website,

“Law enforcement communications and police communications are essential assets to the safety and security initiatives in any community. Advancing police communications allow law enforcement to be more mobile and more rapidly respond to issues. Motorola offers an extensive product line to enhance law enforcement communications with less paperwork and faster, highly reliable performance”.

Motorola built car radios as early on as the 1920’s and US law enforcement and the fire brigade had some of these, however it was not until 1930 that the initial police car 2 way radio was made and constructed by Motorola. In line with the official internet site,

“Sales of Motorola police radios began in November 1930. Among the first customers (all in the U.S. state of Illinois) were the Village of River Forest; Village of Bellwood Police Department; City of Evanston Police; Illinois State Highway Police; and Cook County Police in the Chicago area. As more police departments used radios, challenges emerged. Rough roads, engine noises, interference, high power consumption, and frequency instability led Paul Galvin to recognize that police departments needed a radio specifically engineered for patrol cars”.

In 1936, the Motorola Police force Cruiser Radio was released. It had been a success and Motorola are a trusted brand by United states Police since. In 1939, engineer Don Mitchell fashioned the Mobile T6920 AM Transmitter. It was another achievement, becoming a reasonable choice for the police because,

“This complete Motorola two-way radio system was priced about one-fourth as much as the competition’s, and the transmitters could be installed in cars that already had receivers in the same frequency band. In 1940 the Police Department in Bowling Green, Kentucky, became the first customer for a complete Motorola AM two-way radio system. The radios were so well-designed that Galvin Manufacturing produced the same models for several years, until FM technology replaced them in the 1940s”.

Obviously, the United states police force use a long and fruitful association with the Motorola Corporation. This clearly applies to walkie-talkies as well. It makes good sense to employ a trusted, easy to work with brand for successive generations of officers, who often have to respond promptly and impulsively to numerous problems.

The initial law enforcement to work with two way radios were in reality Australian, but following the Second World War, mobile radios became standard issue in nearly all 1st world nations.