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How to Buy: Headsets

By The Staff of Corrections1

With advances in technology, today’s tactical telecommunicators are faced with a variety of choices in headsets. Whether wireless or wired, the varieties range from traditional single to dual sided over muff style, over-the-ear, boom microphones, in-ear microphones and even in the ear bone conduction microphone systems.

When it comes to making the decision on which type of headset to purchase, a few things need to be considered.

1. Comfort
When it comes to headsets, there is no more important component to consider than the experience a user has after an extended period of use. With many wearing styles to choose from, an operator must take into consideration their headset’s potential to interfere with additional needs such as helmets, gas masks, hazmat suits or exposure to water.

2. User Input
If the communications center manager never wears a headset, then staff members who do wear one should have the most input on what type of headsets are needed. In most cases, operators are required to use headsets 8, 10, or even 12 hours each day. This is not to say that there should be no executive-level input, but there should be a focus on narrowing options down based on budget and technology requirements with final decisions on type and style left up to the frontline staff. This level of input will also serve as a small morale boost for employees to know their ideas are considered and their comfort is important to management.

3. Sound Dampening/Amplifying
Remember that people working in a communications center communicate. Considering that communicating is carried out by numerous people on both the telephone and the radio -- taking place in a confined space -- noise levels will be intense. At the same time, there is a need to amplify telephone callers and field responders on the radio during high-stress periods and other instances when yelling is not an option. Finding a headset that balances these two requirements is imperative.

Relatively no other piece of equipment in today’s communications center is subjected to the level of use and abuse as that of the telecommunicator’s headset. For that reason, they should be resilient, effective and comfortable. There are many different types and styles available to choose from, but narrowing down your choices to those that meet those three basic requirements will make the decision process simpler.

Do you have any other suggestions for officers purchasing a police headset? Please leave a comment below or email with your feedback.