June 25th, 2011

What law enforcement officials should be expected to know about locating mobile phones

Location: Japan, 2010

Okay. I have some FBI agents hiding from people who want to kill them. These people are not the police, but could potentially gain access to information or resources (e.g. from phone companies) through threats. My agents currently have their mobile phones with them. I have researched (via Googling things like "how to locate cell phone" "how to trace location of cell phone" "GPS in cell phone" and some relevant posts in this comm) how using your mobile phone can reveal your location but what I'm struggling with is the level of obvious knowledge the characters would be expected to have given their jobs.

What I want to know is, would these people decide the most prudent thing to do would be to get rid of their phones as soon as possible? Or keeping them with them, but switched off? If they did keep them, would making a call be seen as "absolutely no way, completely idiotic" or "risky, but a possible course of action if our backs are to the wall?"

They're split up and would like to be able to stay in contact, but I don't want them to come across as idiots or amateurs. Initially, their pursuers don't know their phone numbers; then one of their number is captured and (as things stand at the moment) would still have his phone, with his colleagues' numbers, on him.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. I'm pretty clueless about this topic, so I'm finding it hard to make any conjecture about how my characters would view their options. Thank you in advance!

Car power windows - safety issue?

I've searched variations on power window safety, etc. but I can only find information on kids being hurt by windows going up on their necks - not what I'm looking for.

I'm trying to set up a situation where my main couple can meet dramatically, and I'd like to do it without making either character look like an idiot. But I definitely want A to rescue B from a serious hazard. Setting is modern day, rural Montana (or Colorado - a mountainous western state).

My idea is to have B slide off the road in her car, not over a cliff but rather into a water-filled roadside ditch, or maybe a pond or swamp of some sort. She'll be dazed, but not seriously injured, but I'd like her to be stuck in the car while it slowly fills with water. She'll try the doors, but they're all jammed (maybe just a two-door car, to make this less of a stretch - maybe a pickup). And the car's stalled and the power is shorted from the water, so she can't roll down the windows. She'll have nothing in her car strong enough to break the windows, I hope.

So my question is - do car windows work that way? If the engine was wet and had been banged, is it realistic that the windows wouldn't work? Also, how strong are windows? B is young and fit, and while dazed, isn't one to panic. I want this to be a legitimate trap, not something she's too stupid to get out of. Would she be able to just kick the windows out, if she could get the right angle?

I guess I'd LOVE to hear a list of things a smart, calm person would do in this situation (I'm a bit of a panicker, myself), and then a list of reasons why these wouldn't work. Essentially, I want A to stride over manfully and break her car window and pull her from her certain watery grave. Without her looking like an idiot.

Thanks very much for any help!
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