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  1. #1
    Delon is offline Officer First Class
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    Learning county roads / geography ?

    To all the FTOs / Training Officers / Deputies,


    I have a question for you guys, do you have any suggestions on games, learning aids, and anything else, to learn the roads and geopraphy of a large county? I have been looking at maps and driving the roads some on my off time. It is just a fair sized county, over 800 square miles with a lot of rural gravel roads, a fair amount of them unmarked. While I have a GPS, I am not allowed to use it while on FTEP, I am just allowed to use a map, which works, but is a little slow. So just looking to see if you guys know of anything besides what I am doing that had worked well in the paste for other people.

    The reason I am asking is I just switched from a small city PD to working for the county, and the main thing I need to work on is learning all the roads and geography.

    Thanks,

  2. #2
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    Before coming to the City I worked for a Sheriff's Dept. I got 2 county maps. I took one of the maps and cut it into three sections ( North South and Central) I then laminated these three pieces. This made it easier to learn the roads. When I was working the North end of the county I would get out my laminated section for the north. It is much easier to handle than a huge county map.
    As far as best way to learning the roads, I just drove, drove and drove some more. Every time I turned onto a road I would say it out loud and as I was driving I would try to guess which twp or county road would come up next. I learned the roads pretty fast but even after a few years I would have a brain fart and pull out my laminated maps.

  3. #3
    Five-0's Avatar
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    Draw the map of the county yourself. Nothing fancy, but the more detail you put into it the more you will remember. Start with the main get to roads (highly used main roads). I used to do this for geography classes and it works.

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    Don't use GPS. It's like driving around looking through a paper towel cardboard tube. They are good later on for situational awareness but not for finding the best route. I like the idea above about drawing a map. Using maps is good to give an idea of how roads and landmarks relate to each other.
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    Draw the map!

    (Plus 2, and someone rep Five-O for me.)
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by maclean View Post
    Draw the map!

    (Plus 2, and someone rep Five-O for me.)

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    You're not going to learn it overnight....or in a couple weeks...or months...or even, probably, in the first year.


    Drive it as often as you could, look at EVERY single road sign you pass so you always know where you are.

    I don't even work for the county and most of the time I can figure out where I am in the county just by what's around me.
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  8. #8
    JohnSmith is offline Officer First Class
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    The best thing you can do, is work the streets. Run calls, it will come. We have a map on our CAD system, a "Street guide" for the city ont he computer, and I carry a laminated copy of the phone book map above the visor. Worked out well so far, and after about a year on, I know most of the streets I get sent to.

  9. #9
    Jim1348 is online now Rookie
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    Learning County Roads / Geography ?

    I have a couple of thoughts. Like another poster suggested, I took a section of map, cut it to clipboard size, laminated it, and it was on my clipboard when I needed it. The other thing that helped me a lot is finding out what the system is for you area. For example, some places run an alphabet system. Some have a mile of "A: streets, a mile of "B'" streets, etc. Others have a certain theme to certain areas. Maybe it is streets with tree names, Oak Street, Birch Street, Walnut street, etc. Find out how it is laid out and that will help you out. Our County road numbers are even if they are an east-west road and odd for north-south roads, the numbering starts at County Road 2 on the north end and gets higher as you go south. There will be exceptions, but knowing the system will help.

  10. #10
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    Also, do you work a decimel system? I work the Denver metro grid, so we're lucky. Hundred blocks that coincide with numbered east west avenues (62nd is the 6200 block, etc), and generally patterned north-south streets/roads/boulevards. Where I mostly work is alphabetical, two streets per letter, with the second being a plant or tree of some sort. (Albion, Ash, Bellaire, Birch, Clermont, Cherry, and so on.) After that, it still stays alphabetical. When I hear a street, I can think of the general area of where it is based on the alphabet letter, and knowing what "block" of an alpha set belongs in, and can therefore probably guestimate the hundred block it is. Vice versa, I can hear an address, and I might not know the hundred block cross street (since my city spans from the 2300 E block to the 21000+ E block), but I can tell you that it will be in the area of X and Y street that I DO know the hundred block to, then head east 10 blocks to the address.

    On our system too, it's easy to remember "East is even, north is not" when it comes to even and odd addresses and what side of the street they'll be on.
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  11. #11
    Radar's Avatar
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    Well for me I was learning a large metro area, so for county use I'm not sure how well this will fair, but I got a part time job delivering pizza. In addition to the advice given already which I did as well, I delivered pizzas. It helped me to learn the streets faster and even some house numbers. It also helped to give me an undercover like edge to knowing where some of my problem houses were. Showing up with a delivery and having pot smoke roll out the door as a wasted guy answers, the guy screaming at his wife and breaking things as you arrive, the guy who has stacks of tv's and car radios in his living room.... Delivering pizza was a good way to familiarize myself with the locals. It also helped me to know the nice residents of my ward, the doctors, politicos / lawyers (ugh), pilots, businessmen, etc. It helped to meet and familiarize myself with the people I served, and it came in handy later, allowing me to go up and talk to people as if I knew them, because in a way I did.


    And I agree with everyone else so far, the gps is a crutch, use it as a tool but don't ever ever let it get the best of you, it is not without failures and should not be relied on so heavily you loose true "street smarts"

    oh, btw, The vast majority of pizza delivery drivers make minimum wage, so please be sure to tip more. And strangely (not) poor / lower working class tip better than rich people. The bigger the house and the more wealthy they were, the more likely they will give you exact change or in the case of one lady, she gave me a whopping three cents over and told me to keep the change.
    Last edited by Radar; 01-29-10 at 02:02 AM. Reason: Spelling > Me
    Here Speeder, Speeder, Speeder


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  12. #12
    Xiphos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 121Traffic View Post
    Also, do you work a decimel system? I work the Denver metro grid, so we're lucky.
    That whole thing sounds nice. Our city is split into quadrants and each quadrant starts over with numbering. So there's a 5th St NW, SW, SE, and NE. Same with the street names, Elm St SW and SE etc. There's some method to the madness as the streets increase from center out but generally blind monkeys could have done better laying out the city.
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  13. #13
    berserk is offline The reason they do psych evals
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    Quote Originally Posted by 121Traffic View Post
    On our system too, it's easy to remember "East is even, north is not" when it comes to even and odd addresses and what side of the street they'll be on.
    Like the mnemonic device. I use:

    E ast
    V
    E
    N
    S outh

  14. #14
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    i used to read out loud to myself every street sign i passed, every time, until i knew where that street was.
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  15. #15
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    Billy Mack is offline Officer First Class
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    In Georgia, roads have to be specially certified for local officers to run radar, and most little roads aren't listed. All the speed limits are listed on the permit. When I was in FTO, I took the permit and a county map and color coded all the roads that were on the permit with their speed. It really helped me learn the through roads in the county including some of the ones that look like side streets, but are handy cut throughs.

    OTOH, I still have the old speed limits stuck in my head 12 years later, and I don't have a radar.

    Later when I first had a laptop in the car, I kept a GIS map on my laptop that I could zoom in and out of. I learned that some of the geography that I had in my head was messed up, and I learned some more short cuts that way.

    Your tax assessor's office or your county GIS department should be able to provide you with all kinds of maps. They can probably give you a map book with cross references.

    Another place you might want to check is the fire department. They don't get out as much as we do, and they're not nimble enough to make a lot of driving mistakes, so they probably have mapbooks in each vehicle. I get the impression that they check their routes before they roll if it's on a residential street.

    Finally, I'm a big fan of GPSs. On a bush bond, having a GPS in your back pocket can be real helpful when you're on foot in the woods, and you come up behind a subdivision or when you're in an unfamilar area. I've caught people just by doing a little work on the GPS and figuring out where the other side of the woods came out when we chased one out of the county.

 

 

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