In New Brunswick, speaking in code over the police radio was standard operating procedure for police officers. It was necessary to protect the privacy of calls from people listening in on scanners.
"We thought we were fooling people by having 10-codes," says S/Sgt. Jamie Melanson, a watch commander in the Codiac region. "Everybody knows what 10-4 is. You can look up police 10-codes on the Internet. There's no secret now."
To get around this, dispatch started sending calls electronically, which worked, but only if members were in their police vehicles where they had access to their computers.
The solution was a new radio system.
After working with the provincial government, police and other first responders in New Brunswick have started using the trunked mobile radio communication system (NBTMR). Implementation began early in 2017 and will continue to roll out across the province in stages throughout the year.
"We need to rip out every old radio from the cars, the detachments, everywhere," says Shawn Vautour, director of the Operations Communication Centre and radio renewal project. "It's a significant task but well worth it."
The new system is completely digital and fully encrypted. Police officers can ditch the old 10-codes and speak in plain language.
Vautour says, in addition to this, they're breaking down the communication barriers within the RCMP, between neighbouring provinces and between partners because the systems are all connected.
"It's very exciting," he says. "It works like a cellphone. You could be in the northernmost part of the province and something is happening in the southernmost part of the province and you can still talk to each other. RCMP can talk across borders, from New Brunswick to Nova Scotia to Prince Edward Island. You can have situational awareness."
And for the first time in the province, police can communicate with other provincial first responders.
"It keeps coming back to public safety," says Melanson. "Something as simple as enhanced communication between agencies enhances public safety because we're all on the same page when we respond to a call together. All I can see is the benefit of this new system."