DIRECTORATE OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS
By: John Maloney
"…………………and then there was the time in 1975 when, as a CWT Project Officer in R&D at 60 Rochester Row, Colonel Jack Hallett, our Deputy Director, said that I was to accompany him to the Police Staff College at Bramshill. He had been invited to give a lecture to the Inspectors and other Senior Officers Courses, on the background and operation of D.of Tels. To support his lecture, he said that I should take with me a selection of equipment that I had under development. There was no mention of my speaking. The day arrived and I laid out the equipment on a table on the Stage of a very large Lecture Hall. The place was packed with rows and rows of black uniforms with more twinkling stars on their shoulders than in the sky at night.
I stood in the wings while the College Commandant introduced Col. Hallett, who then gave his lecture on the origins and history of D.of Tels. He outlined the main constituent parts and operations of "Field Services, Current Engineering, CCE/Central Stores, Forward Planning/R&D." (these were known irreverently, by some members of D.of Tels staff, as the " Farmers, Cake Makers, Hoarders and Dreamers", respectively).
Jack finished his presentation with a question and answer session and received a polite and restrained round of applause. Then, to my horror and amazement he announced, "John Maloney will now describe and display some of the projects he is currently working on". I, along with many others, liked and admired Jack Hallett, who sadly died recently, but to put me on the spot like this stretched my admiration.
As we exchanged places centre stage there was some subdued clapping. Then I stood there in total silence while these hundreds of intimidating uniforms and faces stared at me to see what would happen next. As I frantically tried to think of something to say I looked at the equipment on the table, and decided to tell them about SAMBA.
I told them of an incident in Hertfordshire where a Farmer was holed up in his cottage, with his shotgun, which he fired at anyone who came near. Police negotiations had failed and it was decided that a CS Gas canister would be fired into the cottage The cottage would then be stormed by officers wearing respirators and a police dog and Handler, also wearing a respirator. The tear ducts of dogs and humans are different and CS Gas does not affect dogs in the same way as humans, which is why you seldom see a dog wearing a respirator. (Not a lot of people know that). The CS canister was fired and the dog and Handler went in. The dog did not understand the Handler's commands, because of the respirator, and the dog bit the Handler, very badly, and the Farmer promptly shot the dog. It was all very nasty but this event prompted ACPO to ask D.of Tels. if communications between police dogs, and their Handlers wearing respirators, could be improved. And so the "Speech Amplification from Mask or Breathing Apparatus" SAMBA project was born.
From my initial state of panic, I felt I had now captured the interest of a least some of these stalwart protectors of law and order, sitting stiffly in their seats, arms folded in the body language of scepticism. But I pressed on and told them that the work I had done to date had showed that there are a number of possibilities in meeting the SAMBA requirements of Police Dog Handlers, and that I would now demonstrate four techniques.
I said that the most promising technique so far is to use a SR6 type Respirator. I then put an amplifier/loudspeaker device on the front of my chest, connected a microphone to a diaphragm on the respirator, but before putting on the respirator I said that I would read a police recruitment poster on the wall so that they could compare the results from the four techniques. I completed the first demo. of the mask mounted microphone technique then moved onto the next, the well-known throat microphone technique. This sounded a bit like Donald Duck, which caused a few smiles in the audience. I started to feel more confident and I began to look forward to finishing the last two demos and then getting out of there as quickly as I could.