441.04 Radio Procedures

The dispatcher has the authority to deploy department resources in response to requests for service. The dispatcher, patrol supervisor and watch commander are in the best position to view the overall status of resources.


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This list is not all-inclusive and subject to modification by need, information and supervisor request. The rule of thumb for officer safety – [redacted].

  • The safety of all on duty street units will be the constant concern of the supervisor. Checking on the status of street units will be done as necessary to insure their welfare.

  • The RCECC will be kept aware of available units. District supervisors will provide the RCECC supervisor with (maps or time sheets) the names of officers, unit numbers, duty hours and any special details prior to the start of their unit’s tour of duty. Any changes in the above will be brought to the attention of the RCECC. Street units include district investigators, patrol operations division personnel, and reserves.

  • The priority system for calls will be complied within the dispatching of resources. Dispatchers may pull units off of a lower priority for a higher priority call if necessary. Dispatchers may deny or pull units out of administrative status (i.e. out of service or P.T., etc.) if necessary. Dispatchers may assign units out of their districts as necessary, but supervisors will be conferred with about unusual or lengthy incidents. The watch commander will be conferred with for any decision to hold over or to implement emergency procedures. Officers are expected to be available for calls until E.O.T.

  • District roll calls.District supervisors will monitor radios and when roll call is over, will advisethe dispatcher that all squads are in service. Individual squads do not have to check in.

  • Squads will be checked out of service on the air at their E.O.T., usually on the hour - includes regular squads, canines, beats, motorcycles, traffic cars, and reserves.

  • Squads going “Out of Service” for lunch will do so, on the air. [Redacted].

  • Squads going P.T. will do so on the air. [Redacted].

  • Requests not to tag or tow are not accepted. Have owner leave note on dash or windshield.

  • No personal messages of a non-emergency nature will be allowed on the air.

  • There will be no levity on the air, nor will anyone be referred to by first name. Rank, title and call numbers are required on all .

  • Care will be exercised in putting out names or phone numbers of complainants. Data privacy will be adhered to in all cases.

  • Squads checking out on details will do so on air giving location and an estimate of time until return to service.

  • The first squad sent on the call is in charge at the call and will make the original report. This is true even if assisting squads arrive first. If an assisting squad or closer squad wishes to volunteer for the call (“I’ll take the call”) and if the dispatcher approves, then responsibility for the call and report shifts to them.

  • [Redacted]

  • The following radio codes will be used when applicable in all radio transmission:

Radio Codes:

The practice of using “plain speak” for radio transmissions other than those indicated below has been adopted by the Saint Paul Police Department.  This will enhance inter-agency communication and the efficacy of incident command for events that involve, or have the potential to involve resources outside the Saint Paul Police Department. 

The following list of 10 codes are authorized:
























International Phonetic Alphabet Procedure:

Any radio transmission using the alphabet, e.g., license prefixes and spelling out unusual names of persons and locations, will use this International Phonetic Alphabet.






















































Sensitive Information: [Redacted]



Administrative Talkgroup (Car to Car):

This talkgroup is intended for radio transmissions that should not occur on the main talkgroups.  Officers and investigators should utilize Car to Car (C2C) for less formal communications that can be achieved more efficiently than using other methods of communication.  C2C is not recorded in the RCECC and cannot be patched to other talkgroups.  It should not be utilized by officers managing ongoing incidents (i.e., to set up a perimeter).  It is intended for non emergency “administrative” communications only.


The following procedure should be used to initiate direct contact with another Saint Paul officer or investigator.

  1. Select the proper based on your present district, i.e., Channel 1, Channel 2, or Channel 3.

  2. Wait for “Clear Air”. Do not interrupt an ongoing interchange between the dispatcher and another mobile unit.

  3. Use the call number assigned to the unit you requesting to contact making the message concise. Request the contacted unit to switch the C2C .

    Example:  “Squad ____ (your number)”.  Dispatcher acknowledges your call.  “Squad ____ to car to car please.” Dispatcher repeats request for identified officer to take car to car.

  4. Transact radio communication making the message as brief as possible.

    Radio Usage:

Radio systems are not infallible and are subject to computer and electronic breakdowns and other failures. It is better to talk in a monotone rather than to put dramatics or any tonal inflections into your voice. Always remember that while you represent only one unit, our dispatchers have many units to handle so be patient with your traffic. Always be certain that nothing goes over your radio microphone except that which pertains to police business. We operate under strict laws of the Federal Communications Commission which has the power to revoke any radio license. Misuse of your equipment is justifiable grounds for disciplinary actions by the police department.  (See General Orders 441.05: Radio Call Procedures, 441.06: Pac Set Radio Procedures)  All radios have unique identifiers which are used to identify individuals, squads and services on the 800 MHz system.

In sending a message always, be sure that you give the dispatcher all available pertinent information. These are the important points for various types of messages:


  • Location

  • Nature of fire

  • Type of building and if occupied

Automobile accident:

  • Location

  • Number of people and nature of injury if paramedic unit requested

  • Rescue squad for extrication or fire

Standard description of persons:

  • Names

  • Race

  • Sex

  • Age

  • Height

  • Weight

  • Hair

  • Eyes

  • Complexion

  • Physical (marks, scars, limp, etc).

  • Clothing (from head to foot -- hat, shirt, tie, coat, trousers, socks, shoes)

Automobile description:

  • Location

  • Make of car

  • Year

  • Model

  • Color

  • License number (full or partial)

  • Any damaged portion of car that would lead to its apprehension. Also direction taken when leaving the scene

Any lengthy messages should be given to the RCECC over the phone or laptop so that all pertinent information can be obtained and questionable items resolved before the message is broadcast, except where the crime has just occurred and immediate information could lead to apprehension.

Street Procedures:

  • Press the microphone button firmly before starting your radio traffic.  Upon hearing the “permit to talk” tones, speak directly into the microphone with the radio 1-2 inches from your mouth.  Where there is significant background noise, place the microphone directly in front of your mouth when transmitting.

  • If another user has the air you will not receive the “permit to talk” tone but will hear a lower pitched tone indicating another user has the air.

  • If the dispatcher is transmitting and an officer attempts to get on the air, the dispatcher will hear the officer in his/her headset.  If an officer attempts to transmit while another officer is on the air, the dispatcher will not hear the transmission.

  • [Redacted].

  • Radio interference by anyone is strictly prohibited by the Federal Communications Commission. This interference refers to unnecessary comments, remarks, noises, whistling or any other matter that would interfere with the proper handling of radio traffic, and officers will see that none of this illegal traffic is transmitted from a radio for which s/he is responsible. Misuse of radio equipment for which s/he is responsible is sufficient cause for disciplinary action from the department. (Also see General Orders 441.05: Radio Call Procedures, 441.06: Pac Set Radio Procedures)

Request for Radio Contact:

When calling the RCECC by phone to request contact with a certain squad, officer or investigator, the following procedure will apply:

The officer will advise the operator:

  • Who s/he wants to contact.

  • Pertinent information to be conveyed.

  • Degree of urgency.

  • Your contact information

Transportation details:

We transport victims, witnesses, arrestees from point to point as duty necessarily requires. We will, when needed transport Saint Paul Police arrestees between the law enforcement center (LEC) to Regions Hospital and back. We will, when needed transport arrestees to headquarters to juvenile facilities (J.D.C., foster homes, shelters, LEC).

Squads will be dispatched to:

Hospitals or other institutions to take incident reports based on the location of occurrence, rather than the location of the institution.

Radio Communications:

District Units: All district squads shall communicate with the dispatcher upon arrival at the scene of an incident by designating their call number and saying, “arrived at scene.”

All district squads should notify the dispatcher whenever checking out on vehicle or pedestrian stops. Transparency and accountably of our daily tasks is imperative in building trust with the community. Every effort should be made by officers to give their location and pertinent information as to the nature of the stop before exiting their squads. License numbers and/or the color and make of the vehicle should be given prior to making the stop. When there is no vehicle involved in the stop a concise description of the person(s) being stopped should be given.  Examples:

  • Vehicle stop: “Squad 330, traffic,” (wait for dispatcher acknowledgment) then, “Squad 330, Seventh Street and Payne Avenue with XXX-OOO” or “Squad 330, traffic,” (wait for dispatcher to acknowledge) then, “Squad 330, Seventh Street and Payne Avenue with a red Ford pick-up truck, no license plate”.

  • Pedestrian stop: “Squad 330,” (wait for dispatcher to acknowledge) then, “Squad 330, I will be out at Seventh Street and Payne Avenue with suspicious persons” (Give brief description).

The dispatcher will acknowledge by stating the squad number and giving the current time. If the circumstances suggest the need for a backup the officer should ask the dispatcher to send another squad(s).

All district squads are required to notify the dispatcher whenever checking in or out of calls for service, self-initiated activity, special details, or any incidents not assigned by the dispatchers. Upon completion of a call for service or other police action district units will notify the dispatcher of the disposition of the incident.

Alternative Talkgroup Assignments:

Major Incident – A major incident is defined as requiring most district resources along with additional resources such as canine, S.W.A.T., hostage negotiators, etc.  Major incidents will remain on the talkgroup in which they began.  RCECC will designate another talkgroup for routine traffic depending on what talkgroups are available and RCECC staffing levels.  Should resources outside the Saint Paul Police Department be required the main talkgroup will be patched with state, county or regional level talkgroups as required.

Minor Incident – A minor incident is an incident that is not requiring significant department resources but which does require coordination and continued management that is more suited to a dedicated talkgroup as opposed to remaining on the main talkgroup. Where formerly these types of incidents were moved to the C2C channel they will be assigned to one of the available SPOPS or POOL talkgroups by the RCECC Supervisor.  The district sergeant, primary officer or commander of these incidents is required to notify the RCECC dispatcher or supervisor when the alternate talkgroup assignment is no longer required.

Planned Events – contact the RCECC Supervisor for scheduled events within 24 hours of the event. The RCECC Supervisor will ensure the talkgroup assigned is not already in use and will put the talkgroup out of service. Call at the conclusion of the event and/or detail to let the RCECC Supervisor know you no longer need the talkgroup reserved for your event.

 Revised May 4, 2018