Every nine weeks or so, every reporter in this newsroom has to strap the paper’s police radio to their hip for a Saturday night and play at being Mark Laflamme.
You gather up the police logs at the local police stations, listen to the scanner and pray you don’t have to write a weather feature.
Sometimes, you’re busy as hell. You dash from disaster to disaster and the 7.5 hours pass in a blink. For others, the radio stays quiet. And your desk gets all tidied up.
Tonight it was my night: Here’s what’s wandering through my mind:
- You see a lot of very fancy names in the police log attached to people doing some less than fancy things. Do you think the parents of Adria, Desmond and Amberly had any clue at the child’s christening? Really, the names in a police log should be Flo, Dutch and Roy.
- Then again, the police log is one of the few times your entire name will actually be used. Birth, marriage, death. Graduation, I suppose. Indictment, and right next to a fuzzy photograph if that’s the case. And really, how often can you count on getting a picture in the paper along side your formal name?
- It’s real easy to fly off the handle listening the scanner. You think it’s big news, and it turns out it’s a lost dog or something. Had situation tonight where and officer rolled up on an empty vehicle, keys in the ignition, engine running. Sounded like the guy had been kidnapped by aliens. Turns out, he was a utility worker who stopped to inspect a line. No big deal.
- Cell phones, computers, digital cameras: They’ve all gotten tiny as technology has marched along. But police band scanners are still massive affairs that threaten to tear out the belt loops to your favorite jeans when you strap them on. Am I seriously to believe that someone couldn’t come up with a digital scanner that could fit neatly in a shirt pocket? There’s a market there, I’m telling you.
- Police scanners are cool, even though they seem like they’re just Radio Shack geekery. But if hipsters ever figured out how strange the calls were, how much information gets conveyed between police cars and 911 dispatchers, they’d be in line at Radio Shack to get one.
- I’ve had jobs before where each day was the same as the last, a steady drumbeat. I kind of prefer ones like this: long stretches of boredom punctuated with adrenaline pumping random action.