You Heard What On Your Police Scanner?
By now you have probably gathered from my previous posts that I am a certified police scanner nut, maybe a freak, and perhaps obsessed. Call it what you will, but I love this hobby for many reasons. Why do I love this activity so much you ask? Simple. Over time, you will hear some of the craziest, weirdest, most unimaginable, and heart-breaking events unfold in front of your very ears. Some of the following stories are odd, some heart-breaking, and others are completely unimaginable. It is important to remember that what you hear on a police scanner is real life. The men and women in law enforcement risk their lives for their communities every single day. Each of the following stories are true, and I monitored each one myself.
“Some people just can’t help themselves”
I bet one of the first calls that does not come to your mind as something you may monitor on a police scanner are people either having relations with themselves or others in parking lots, in front of schools, or outside in plain sight. Yep, you read that right. We are going to keep this “G” rated, but people sometimes do the nasty in public places, and the police have to respond to indecent exposure calls, prostitution, and other similar types of calls. What is more interesting is that this type of call happens more than you may think. I can’t even come up with an exact number of these types of calls that I have heard over the years. Keep your ears peeled. You may just log one for yourself.
“When it all comes crashing down”
I live near several military air bases here in Southern California. Needless to say, you see some pretty cool aircraft flying around at any given moment. I often listen to the aircraft communications as they navigate through airspace, complete training exercises, and engage in mock fights. You may be thinking, yeah, ok, ho-hum, I bet that gets boring after a while. Well, sure, the routine in anything can get boring after a while. However, it is the unimaginable that takes your breath away, and leaves you without any words.
I recall a relatively recent incident in which a military pilot was training in what seemed to be business as usual. A short time later, the pilot lost control of his F-18 and crashed into a house in a residential area. The crash resulted in the killing of two women and two children in a single residence. Needless to say, the community was devastated. The man who survived his wife and children was devastated for his loss. The sole pilot flying the aircraft that survived the crash was devastated. I was also devastated as I heard law enforcement and emergency crews responding to the incident. Something like this goes into your memory and you never stop thinking about incidents such as this. My heart goes out to the man and his family that lost four family members in the accident, and to the pilot who will have to face that memory for the rest of his life.
“The effects of mental illness”
I think mental illness does not get anywhere near the attention nor the funding that it deserves. There are many people out there suffering from mental issues, and you are guaranteed to hear the effects of this on your police scanner. Many of the calls you hear from suicide threats to people suffering the effects of schizophrenia and other mental illnesses are present in many routine police calls.
I recall one incident that happened approximately two miles from my home where a severely mentally ill man went on a shooting spree in an apartment complex killing and wounding a number of residents, some of which were children. This is one of those incidents that is simply unthinkable, but is sadly becoming more common in the world today. I remember listening to the police send in the SWAT team to take out this man who was acting as a lone sniper from his own apartment. This is something you would think was born out of a sinister Hollywood movie plot, yet it happened just down the street from my own home. An incident like this is simply unimaginable where I live.
“When things go from bad to worse”
You will likely hear a number of incidents in time that simply get worse minute by minute. When people commit a crime, they are already experiencing adrenaline when the police arrive on scene. However, once you add the pressure of getting caught, and being on parole, things can go downright crazy.
I recall one late night listening to my scanner when the police were responding to a possible stolen car that was emitting a Lo-Jack signal. When the police arrived at the area the signal was coming from, they spotted the stolen car that was emitting the signal. The vehicle was occupied by two people. A short vehicle pursuit later found the suspects cornered. The two suspects bailed out of the car and jumped a nearby fence into a backyard of a home, to evade police. The passenger of the vehicle left with a shotgun in his possession. This prompted police to approach the backyard cautiously before jumping the fence to apprehend the suspects. There was a police helicopter overhead filming the entire incident with a FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared). As police approached the backyard, they heard a gunshot. As it turns out, the passenger of the vehicle had a record. He pointed the shotgun towards himself and shot himself. He was pronounced dead at the scene. This is one of those incidents that just went from a bad situation to a worse situation. These situations are not completely uncommon, but are a reality when monitoring a police scanner.
One of the more interesting incidents that I have personally monitored on my police scanner was a bar brawl in a nearby downtown club in my city. Now bar brawls as you can imagine are not at all uncommon. What is uncommon is when the bar brawl involves one of the players from your local NFL football team. It turns out that the local football star was celebrating a win, when another bar patron heckled him. The exchange eventually reached a point to where fists were exchanged, and a fight broke out between the two. The incident of course made the news. This was definitely a personal fowl that occurred off the field.
“At the wrong place at the wrong time”
One of the most memorable incidents in recent history that I personally monitored on my police scanner was on a slow day in the middle of the afternoon. The scanner traffic was slow. It was one of those days where you say to yourself, ok, there is not much going on here, so I will go do a few chores. However, just before I resigned to turn off my radio, I heard something terrifying. A police officer in my city was stopped at a red light on a busy street, in a rough part of town. A car pulled up in a lane beside the officer. Then a sole male occupant in the car opened fire on the police officer shooting him in the head. The shot was fatal and killed the officer on the scene. I will never forget this story as the news crews covered the story for several days. As the media dug deeper into the police officer’s final moments, something heart warming was then discovered. Surveillance video at a local fast-food restaurant, just blocks away from the shooting scene revealed that the officer had bought a young child some cookies. It appeared that the child came up a bit short for the purchase, so the officer bought the cookies for the child with his own money. The officer smiled at the child and went about the rest of his shift. Nobody could have known the fate that awaited that officer just minutes later.
“Just a little respect and appreciation for a job well done”
As you can see, owning a police scanner provides a very unique perspective into the eyes of crime as seen by emergency crews, law enforcement officials, and the victims. These are only a few of thousands of incidents that I have monitored over the years. I feel that I am not alone when I say that these incidents really make you appreciate what the men and women involved in public safety do for us everyday. I am also proud to have the freedom to own and monitor a police scanner and further appreciate what these competent and valiant people do for us each and every day as events like these unfold. If you have any unique police scanner incidents or stories that you would like to share, please feel free to provide a comment below. I love this hobby and would love to hear any scanner stories you may have for the community. As always, until next time, Happy Listening!