Stay in law enforcement long enough and eventually a serious clash between equipment and officer safety happens. Just recently, I was on patrol when we received a call that prompted me to deploy my heavy armor and AR-15. I donned my armor and tried to secure my corded shoulder microphone, but due to the recent addition of med kits to my armor, I could no longer get the microphone to reach my shoulder. Long story short: I shoved the microphone somewhere on the front of my vest so that we could make entry into the home. As soon as we cleared the call, I stowed my gear and sat in my patrol car pretty steamed at myself for making the rookie mistake of adding a med kit to my turn-out gear without testing it with my duty gear first.
Identify the Problem
A piece of equipment that forces me to lose time and focus on the job is an unacceptable equipment issue. When I got off duty that day, I did something that I should have done a long time ago: I placed an order for a FreeLinc product—the FreeMic 200.
For the last five years, I’ve been following FreeLinc’s technology. FreeLinc has determined that commonly used radio frequency (RF) technologies, including Bluetooth, aren’t able to provide officers with reliable and secure wireless communication between a device and a two-way radio. The inherent structure of the RF spectrum results in interference and crowding among devices. It also creates information security issues and consumes a great deal of power. A good example of this problem is in the 2.4 GHz Industrial/Scientific/Medical (ISM) band—the simultaneous operation of cordless phones, WiFi and Bluetooth devices is often impossible without severe degradation in the quality of the transmission.
To meet the secure communications concerns and needs of LE and military clients, Freelinc employed Near-Field Magnetic Induction (NFMI) technology. NFMI uses the magnetic field close to the transceiver to sustain communications within a five-foot “bubble,” which renders it immune to interference from nearby RF sources. By encapsulating the transmission and limiting the range to only what the application requires, FreeLinc achieves these benefits: a five-to-one power efficiency ratio over RF, dedicated com channels, elimination of bandwidth sharing, complete frequency reuse between bubbles and reliable coexistence with WiFi, CDMA, TDMA and GSM.
FreeLinc also addressed health issues that are inherent in projecting magnetic fields around biological tissue. Magnetic induction transmits extremely low power in the range of about 100 nanowatts (nW) compared to RF technologies in the 1,600,000 nW range. In addition, the use of a low frequency band (10–15 MHz) significantly reduces the RF absorption by biological tissue. The U.S. currently has the lowest limit (1.6W/Kg) for what’s known as specific absorption rate (SAR). To understand how low magnetic induction power levels compare to this limit, consider that if all the emitted power were concentrated into one square millimeter, the measured SAR would be 16,000 times less than the U.S. limit. Now, take everything that I’ve just told you and add to it astounding battery life. The FreeLinc devices boast talk times of 20 hours for the FreeMotion 100, 50 hours for the FreeMic 200 and a staggering 150 hours for the Dual Muff 300.
Living with Technology
With FreeLinc you don’t just use the technology, you integrate it. No matter which model you purchase, everything you need to get started is in the box upon delivery. Since FreeLinc technology is model-specific to your duty radio, you’re asked a short series of questions at the time of purchase to ensure that when your unit arrives, it’s ready for service. After an initial charging cycle, you can put your FreeLinc product to work.
I added the plug-in, Ultra Light Ear Piece to my FreeMic 200 and have enjoyed the privacy it affords me. I put the unit into continuous use the first week without ever charging it. At the end of my five-day rotation, I still had 10 hours to spare. The FreeMic 200 is small, light and reliable. It’s as tough as my Motorola XTS 2500, and with the FreeLinc adapter, I also have an extra PTT button atop the radio for clandestine transmitting, should I ever find myself in a situation where I don’t want to be seen keying up.
All it takes is one adapter to operate any FreeLinc wireless device. So once you have an adapter installed, you can transition in and out of devices at will. Should you need to go to heavy firepower with hearing protection in the mix, you get out of your patrol car, toss your FreeMic 200 onto the passenger seat and don your Dual Muff 300 hearing protection, and in you go.
If you want to be as low key as possible, the FreeMotion 100 has you covered. By condensing the FreeLinc technology into a standard Bluetooth-sized ear piece, the world of communications has reached a whole new level. Transitioning from the 200 to the 100 was similar to not wearing a radio at all—it was seamless.
The 100 offers you many different ear gel options and ear clips for either right or left use. My advice to you: Go straight to the Tactical Headband. This is a wrap-around molded band that perfectly matches the contours of your head and holds the 100 securely in place. With this item, you can engage in vigorous operations without the fear of losing your ear piece. If that should happen with any of the FreeLinc devices, you can bypass them by flipping the master switch on your adapter and terminating the link, thus returning control to your handheld. In the reverse scenario, you can still use your FreeLinc device even if you’re physically separated from your radio in a fight. As long as you’re within five feet, by line of sight, you can still talk to dispatch.
There’s no reason for patrol officers,tac units, bike patrol, plainclothes officers, etc., to not be using FreeLinc technology. These units are tough and weather-resistant. I look forward to putting on my FreeLinc every day. When was the last time you could say that about the gear you have to wear?
Until next time, practice hard, and I’ll see you on the streets.
• Long battery life
• Secure & reliable
Approximate street price:
FreeMotion 100: $249.00
FreeMic 200: $249.00
Dual Muff 300: $299.00