Mister Eclectic (howeird) wrote,
Mister Eclectic

Unexpected nostalgia

On my bedside tablet there's a scanner app - radio scanners. During my newspaper days in Omak and Raymond, even though my title was News Editor, they gave me a police radio scanner and I was the official "ambulance chaser".

Though the ambulances were generally sent after I had gone out to chase fire engines. I wasn't expected to respond to police calls unless the police chief called me.

Back then the radios were not available to the public and you needed to plug in a specific crystal for each frequency.

The app has a list of the most listened to stations around the country, and a list of local stations. Until this week I have been listening to those, and they are just random snippets between the dispatcher and the officer in the field. Sometimes they give locations but usually they are just checking in. Boring and mostly useless.

North las Vegas Fire has a fairly constant stream of this, and it's something to fall asleep to instead of random music radio stations.

But with the explosion in Nashville, I made their fire & police band one of my favorites, just in case there was follow-up.

There has not been, except for a one-off of a security cop asking if he should let a US Marshall into the Federal Building after hours.

But I am loving listening, because like Omak, they have an automated system which brings back memories.

There is a specific tone which is sent, which tells whether they are alerting fire or police or ambulance. After the tone is an AI woman's voice giving the until number ("Car 54 where are you?"), then the destination and finally what is being responded to ("man down, details unknown" or "55 year old woman with trouble breathing" or "neighbors report hearing gunshots").

This is usually followed by units identifying themselves and saying "copy" or giving an ETA or suggesting another unit is closer, or another officer already has his pants on.

I am pleased to hear a dispatch operation which knows how to do it. And it brings back a memory of Omak in the snow, about 2 am, driving my VW hatchback to a fire, the fire truck is on the highway about 1/4 mile ahead of me, when I feel like my car is skidding. I pulled over (there was no other traffic) and tested the brakes. Nope, not skidding. Something else was wrong, so I turned around and went home. Took the car in the next day and I had burned out the clutch.

In Raymond, the police chief's name was Howard, we became friends, but not close enough to be invited into his "key club". The club was well known around town, four couples would show up, the men would drop their car keys in a hat and the women would pull a key out of the hat, and go home with whomever the key belonged to.

Howard was in the process of divorcing his 4th wife when I got a call from a member of the club. Member was a former port commissioner, who told me Howard was resigning and would be leaving the area. I called Howard and asked him where he was moving to. He said he knew exactly where he would be spending his next 5 years but would not go into details.

DA calls me, and tells me to call the police department admin. The admin tells me that Howard wanted to promote her, so he sent her to an accounting class. In the class she learned about some common scams, and recognized that Howard was keeping a second set of books. When someone paid a fine by check, it went into the book, but when the fine was in cash, it went into his pocket. But he did keep a record because unpaid fines would trigger an arrest warrant. She found that second book, and showed it to the DA, who realized that Howard couldn't afford 4 alimony payments on his regular salary.

I left Raymond before the arrest, but got reports from former co-workers that Howard had indeed been sentenced to 5 years for embezzling.

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