Urban Policing

A police women standing with her arms crossed

US Police Department Maintains Safety & Efficiency in Undercover Operations


Officer safety is always a top priority for law enforcement agencies. This Western US police force runs many covert operations, from surveillance of suspected criminals to going undercover at large public events.

These events, like marathons, parades, and public demonstrations, increasingly run a risk of violent activity, requiring police departments to find ways to blend in with the crowds. Typically, with covert work, several plain-clothes officers go into the field while a coordinator monitors their whereabouts from a van or patrol car.

Police department leaders needed a way to facilitate back-and-forth communications between undercover officers and supervisors without drawing attention to the officers in the crowd.

To maintain cover for their officers, police chiefs knew they couldn’t use land mobile radio devices or similarly bulky tools. They needed a device that was easy to use, easy to conceal, and useful for quick communication without the noise of a two-way radio.

The clear choice was Orion, whose lightweight and powerful Onyx devices can be worn beneath a jacket or shirt and require officers only to push a button to reach the monitoring team.


Importantly, Orion can connect teams using smartphones, which are ubiquitous enough not to arouse suspicion as agents work undercover. Using Orion, the department was able to discreetly communicate with its undercover officers and to coordinate operations without adding bulky equipment or compromising their officers’ identities.

In high-risk operations like these, absolute discretion is required to maintain officer safety.

Not only does that mean discreet messaging while embedded in a crowd, but it also means protection from third party interception. Messages sent through Orion are streaming and encrypted, which prevents them getting into the wrong hands. This layer of security protects officers involved in ongoing investigations and also allows officers in the field to focus on the essential work of policing rather than technical concerns.

Additionally, the department operates in a vast territory, with individual officers working up to 90 miles away from headquarters at any time. Traditional LMR systems won’t reach across such long distances, whereas Onyx provides an unlimited range.

Lastly, the department took advantage of GPS location tracking to enhance officer safety. Supervisors can dispatch assistance to their teams without having to ask agents to provide their precise locations.

All this adds up to a police force that’s safer, more connected and coordinated, and more heads-up than before. Orion enabled a level of situational awareness that many police departments strive for but few achieve. The powerhouse combination of Onyx’s discreet communication with Orion’s location tracking is essential to the continued expansion of the department’s undercover operations.

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