Copy
10:40 p.m. “I got about 2,000 college students coming from Walnut Street to 30th to Center City.”
10:46 p.m. “It’s endless, chief. Endless.”
11:11 p.m. “They’re on top of trash trucks. There is to be no one on top of trash trucks, guys.”
11:14 p.m. “We have multiple people on Broad Street swinging on light poles.”
11:20 p.m. “Climbing the trash trucks at 13th and Market.”
11:25 p.m. “I need to get the fire extinguisher out of my trunk. I got a fire on Broad Street just south of South. Someone lit a Christmas tree on fire.”

Philadelphia Police radio transcripts after the Eagles won the 2018 Super Bowl

Calling All Cars


Do you remember the old movies from the 1930s when a radio in a police car would blare out "Calling all cars! Calling all cars!" The diligent policemen would zoom away in their car with the siren screaming. The dispatcher had no idea if the radio cars heard the frantic call because two-way radios were uncommon and expensive. So from the late 1920s until after World War II, most police departments relied on their cruisers having radio receivers only. Today, police use digital radio systems that carry data, video, and other information.

Police have been perfecting electronic communications since just after the Civil War. In 1870, the Chicago Police Department installed call booths around the city that contained a modified telegraph system. The beat cop would move a pointer around a dial to select one of a number of situations like "thieves," "arson," etc. and pull a handle. This would automatically telegraph the officer's needs back to headquarters. When telephones came along, HQ could now alert policemen in the field via lights installed around the city signaling them to phone in using "call boxes." Call boxes are still maintained in some major cities today. Here's a "what's old is new again" fun fact: many colleges, the University of Kentucky included, have lights around campus that flash to alert when there is an emergency.

The 1920s saw a dramatic rise in crime. After all, this was the Prohibition Era and cops had to bust up stills and raid speakeasies. In response, the Detroit Police Department began developing a central dispatch transmitter that police officers in the field could receive on car radios. In 1928, Detroit PD launched the radio station KOP (clever!) for one-way police communications. Police units basically just monitored the radio for their car number to be alerted. The "Calling all cars," phrase was used to summon all available units to a particular crime scene.

During the depression money got scarce, and banks got robbed. Police not only had to get to the scene quickly, they needed to contact other cruisers to be on the lookout for a Ford V8 with a man and woman speeding their way. Two-way car radios first started appearing in 1933, but could cost more than the car itself. Advancements during WWII made them more affordable and compact. By the 1960s, most police departments around the country had some sort of two-way communications. 

In larger cities, the sheer number of radio cars on the road jammed the noisy AM band. New FM bands were opened up in the VHF and UHF spectrums allowing crisper and cleaner communications. Cities such as Los Angeles employed separate dedicated HQ and patrol car frequencies. As Americans learned through such procedural cop shows as Adam-12, dispatch occupied one radio channel, and radio cars occupied separate channels. Patrol cars could not hear each other unless they switched to a tactical, or "tac" channel for car-to-car communications. To hear dispatch, they had to switch back to the main channel. Later in the 70s, LAPD cars had a second dedicated receiver and speaker to hear dispatch no matter what channel they were on.

In the 80s, communication once again got a kick in the pants with Mobile Data Terminals (MTS) that put keyboards and computer screens in patrol cars, cutting down on voice communications and freeing up the radio channels. Walkie-talkies shrunk and some even did double duty as car transceivers. Today, almost every beat cop has a personal mobile unit, thanks to the small size and lower cost.

A lot of departments are moving to all digital systems for improved clarity, data capabilities, and encryption. Much like the early days of police radio communications, there are drawbacks to an all digital system. Number one is cost, but there have been a series of federal grants that smaller departments can take advantage of. The second problem is the limited range of digital transmission which requires more power than older analog systems. The third, and most controversial, is encrypted transmissions which is opposed by constitutional watchdogs.

The police, ever trying to stay one step ahead of crime, also take advantage of emerging communications technology like smart phones, GPS, and live video. Above all, voice communication is still the preferred way for police to communicate with each other. They may not say "Calling all cars!" anymore, but there's bound to be at least one dispatcher asking, "Car 54, where are you?"
 



Articles about police communications, both past and future.


The evolution of police communications and what's ahead

The history of police communications

A fascinating article from 1942 about the state of police communications and some bold and accurate predictions

The prohibition origins of police radio

How police officers communicated before mobile phones

Replacing legacy police technology with smart devices

History of the LAPD's communications department
 

Dynamix Productions, Inc. is an audio production facility in the heart of thoroughbred horse country, Lexington, Kentucky. Some of the many audio services we provide are: sound-for-picture, corporate communications, advertising, narrations, audiobooks, podcasts, live broadcast, ISDN, location and remote recording, restoration, and tape/LP to digital transfers. 

Since our opening 16 years ago in 2003, we have won or been a part of nearly 100 awards; including more than 75 ADDY’s (American Advertising Federation), 8 Telly's, 2 Silver Microphones, 1 PRSA (Public Relations Society of America), 1 Eclipse Award, and 1 Emmy nomination.

Why do professionals from desktop producers to Fortune 50 companies choose Dynamix for the highest level of production? We Listen.

Sound Bits

Sound and audio tech news from around the web
 
  • The British high-end audio manufacturer Cambridge Audio shows off the most convenient way to enjoy your vinyl collection.. At CES 2019 in Las Vegas this week, Sony unveiled a new turntable that merged old tech with new, including Bluetooth for wireless streaming. The UK's Cambridge Audio has gone a step further with a Bluetooth-enabled turntable that supports high resolution streaming courtesy of the aptX HD codec. New Atlas has the story.
  • Sony Unveils a Brand-New 3D Audio Format — Introducing ‘360 Reality Audio’ Forget 5.1 audio surround.  Sony Corporation is introducing something far more immersive. Digital Music News was at CES with the story.
  • ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ ‘A Star Is Born,’ ‘Westworld’ Pick Up Cinema Audio Society Nominations. The Cinema Audio Society has announced nominees for excellence in sound mixing for 2018 films and television series. Find out the winners and losers at Variety.
  • Sound-Silencing Tips for a Quieter Home. If you want to bring the rest of your house to a more generalized state of peace and quiet, CR’s experts have several other sound-silencing secrets.
  • The Science of Sound: How the Products You Use Every Day Are Engineered for Your Ears. The story of how product designers obsess over noise, and how CR's obsessive experts test for it. Another gem from Consumer Reports.
Valley_of_the_BOOM

Valley of the Boom premieres January 13th on National Geographic Channel (hint: you can watch the first two episodes now). Dynamix Productions recorded ADR with Steve Zahn for all the episodes. Blending drama with interviews, the six-part series goes back to Silicon Valley during the birth of the World Wide Web. Find out more at National Geographic.
Listen to Eastern Standard on WEKU-FM

Dynamix Productions, and WEKU-FM, Eastern Kentucky University’s public radio station in Richmond, KY, have partnered to move primary production of the popular long-running radio program “Eastern Standard” to the studios of Dynamix. The first program produced at Dynamix aired on July 19, 2018. By bringing the production to Lexington, producers have easier access to Central Kentucky business, healthcare, and education leaders, as well as local artists, entertainers, and other newsmakers. The move underlines WEKU’s commitment to providing the area’s most concise and in-depth coverage of news, issues, and ideas that directly affect Central Kentuckians. The program’s expansion to the studios of Dynamix Productions is made possible by a generous gift to WEKU from Alltech in Nicholasville, KY.

Hosted by network news veteran Tom Martin, “Eastern Standard,” is a public affairs program that covers a broad range of topics of interest to Kentuckians. Resources for topics include WEKU’s reporting partner, the Ohio Valley ReSource, a partnership with seven public media outlets across three states; the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting; the Lexington Herald-Leader; and National Public Radio. “Eastern Standard” can be heard Thursdays at 11:00 AM and 7:00 PM, and Sundays at 6:00 PM on 88.9 WEKU-FM.

Recent topics and guests on the program include:
  • Disturbing Drug Stats; Humans of Central Appalachia
  • Bluegrass in Space, Screen Time Dangers, a Racehorse Kidnapping, and Double Majors.
  • Exit Interview: Lexington Mayor Jim Gray; Grocery Robots; Opioid Alternatives; Dementia: The Early Signs; Humans of Central Appalachia
Did you miss the live show? Listen online.

Recent Productions

  • NPR's "All Things Considered" interviewed Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear in our studios. (NPR, Washington, DC)
  • Editing / mastering of the audiobook "Smart Women" by Judy Blume, narrated by Rebecca Lowman. (Penguin Random House Audio, Los Angeles, CA.)
  • Editing / mastering of the audiobook "Work Wife" by Erica Cerulo and Claire Mazur, narrated by the authors. (Penguin Random House Audio, Los Angeles, CA.)
  • Recording / editing / mastering of the audiobook "Frostborn: The Gorgon Spirit" by Jonathan Moeller. Narrated by Brad Wills. Available soon on Audible.
  • "Block Talk" podcast for Ridley Block  (Alltech, Nicholasville, KY)
  • "Retail Signage" video soundtrack (Lexmark, Lexington, KY)
  • Video soundtrack for Bullards 100th Anniversary (MediaVision, Lexington, KY)
  • "Abel Tasman" video soundtrack (Keeneland, Lexington, KY)
  • 2018 Alltech "Celebration of Song" live/recorded holiday music show at The Square in downtown Lexington. The show featured singers from the UK School of Opera accompanied by an orchestra. Dynamix recorded all singers and instrumentalists employing nearly 50 mics and live feeds. The program was later live streamed and broadcast on WKYT-TV and heard on WUKY 91.3 FM.

Live and Online

Projects produced at Dynamix Productions
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Lexington, KY 40502

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