Church Security: Radio Communications Best Practices

Read this article to learn best practices in radio communications for church security teamsWhen multiple people act as a security team for an activity or event, such as a church service, staying informed with each other is a vital part of the defense plan. Employing two-way radios with ear pieces and push-to-talk (PTT) microphones is a subtle, non-intrusive method to accomplish the goal. The Golden Rules of radio operation are

  • Clarity — speak slightly slower than normal and avoid shouting
  • Simplicity — use simplified language and shortcut phrases
  • Brevity — messages should be short and concise
  • Security — assume more people are listening than only the one to whom you’re speaking.

For effective radio communication, the following specific procedures should be followed. Identify first, by name, the recipient, then second, your name. Once they acknowledge your transmission, proceed with your conversation until it’s complete. Here’s an example:

Portable 5: “Base 23, this is Portable 5. Over”
Base 23: “Portable 5, this is Base 23. Over.”

Portable 5: “Base 23, I have returned from job 734. Are there any messages? Over.”
Base 23: “Portable 5, you have 3 messages. Over.”

Portable 5: “Base 23, I will select them at 1600. Over.”
Base 23: “Roger, Portable 5. This is Base 23. Out”

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Procedure Words to Use in Radio Communications

Use the following words as shortcuts to standardize and concisely communicate your message:

Acknowledge — Request for the person you’re addressing to acknowledge receipt of your message.
Affirmative — Yes or That is correct.
Negative — No or That is incorrect.
Break-Break — To interrupt a communication for an urgent message.
Correction — An error has been made and the transmission will repeat from the last word correctly used.
Come In — Asking the other party to acknowledge that they hear you.
Do you copy? — Can you hear me? Do you understand?
Copy That — I hear you; I understand what was said.
Go Ahead — Resume the transmission.
Go For _____ — Self identifier; I’m here and ready for conversation.
Say Again — Repeat; re-transmit your message.
I Say Again — I will retransmit the message or part of the message.
I Spell — The word will be spelled using the military phonetic alphabet.
Over — Communication is finished; transmission continues; a reply is expected.
Out — Communication is over; end of transmission; no reply is expected; channel is available.
Radio Check — Check on signal strength. Can you hear me?
Read You Loud and Clear — Responding to “Radio Check.” Transmission Signal is strong.
Relay To — Transmit this message to the addressee indicated.
Roger or Ten Four — Message is received and understood.
Stand By — Acknowledges transmission but unable to respond at the moment.
This Is _____ — Self identifier.
Wait — A pause of a few seconds will follow.
What’s your 20? — Where are you?
Wilco — I will comply with your message.

For example (words in brackets [ ] are optional as needed for differentiation), the following is a typical conversation using the above shortcut phrases:

Portable 5: “Base 23, This Is Portable 5. Come in. Over.”
Base 23: “Portable 5, This Is Base 23. Go ahead. Over.”

Portable 5: “[Base 23,] Radio Check. Over.”
Base 23: “[Portable 5,] I Read You Loud and Clear. Over.”

Portable 5: “[Base 23,] I see a propped open door. Should it be? Over.”
Base 23: “[Portable 5,] What’s Your 20? Over.”

Portable 5: “[Base 23,] I’m inside the south entrance. Over.”
Base 23: “[Portable 5,] Are people unloading boxes from a truck? Over.”

Portable 5: “[Base 23,] Affirmative. Over.”
Base 23: “[Portable 5,] What word is printed on the truck? Over.”

Portable 5: “[Base 23,] CARDO. Correction. CAPDO. Over.”
Base 23: “[Portable 5,] Say Again. Over.”

Portable 5: “[Base 23,] CAPDO. I Spell: Charlie-Alpha-Papa-Delta-Oscar. Over.”
Base 23: “[Portable 5,] They have authorization. Do You Copy? Over.”

Portable 5: “[Base 23,] Copy That. Over.”
Base 23: “[Portable 5,] Thanks. Move back to your previous position. Over.”

Portable 5: “[Base 23,] Roger, Base 23. This Is Portable 5. Out.”

How to Use Your Radio Microphone

Clear, concise communication is critical for the church security team to understand messages and act in coordination with each other. The following principles contribute to coherent transmissions and audio clarity:

  • Push the PTT microphone button before you start talking and hold it throughout your transmission.
  • The microphone should be 1–2 inches from your mouth.
  • Talk past the microphone, not directly into it.
  • Don’t rattle the microphone; movement can translate into noise or inconsistent volume levels.
  • Avoid background sound when speaking on the microphone; move to a subdued location if possible or shield the microphone with your hand as you speak across the mic.
  • Speak clearly in your normal voice; don’t yell; speak slowly; divide your message into natural phrases.

For more information, visit Tait Radio Academy.

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