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Old 02-04-2014, 11:43 PM
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Default CHP in the 60's and 70's

I'm looking for old timers who know how dispatch and CHP (or other agencies, for that matter) dealt with radio and dmv lookups. There was no internet, no real networking of computers in those days. So how did they do registration checks and what not over the radio? Or maybe they didn't?
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Old 02-05-2014, 12:18 AM
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Police computer messaging emerged in the 1960s -- Teletypes, basic computer communications, 2-way radio and telephones were widely used.

2-Way radio and telephones were the most reliable and fastest method. Fast being relative.


Even to this day, the telephone is used to query certain records directly from DMV / DOJ
Back then, intercomms/telephone hotlines allowed officers and dispatcher to communicate to those that maintained and queried files.

Prior to "computers" - the telephone and police call boxes were used to communicate with the station.
Record checks and fingerprint checks were not instant, but obtainable.

DMV started collecting "fees" in 1936 - up til the 1960s DMV issued paperwork registration -- and well, times were different. Not that crimes didn't occur, but people were a bit more honest back then. Following the rules and doing what was right.

Here is a decent timeline of police tech
Forensic Science Timeline
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Old 02-05-2014, 12:53 AM
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Thanks. I do notice that even today, CHP on traffic stops only call in for registration and license checks if the driver's paperwork is not in order, as I hear them do a driver license lookup by name and DOB. So apparently they still rely on the paperwork at hand in a person car.

As a computer guy myself, I was puzzled they could do any kind of records check back then. TCP/IP was not cooked up until the early 80's.

Again, thanks for the info and link.
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Old 02-05-2014, 12:58 AM
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Stumbled upon this, if anyone is interested:

https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/Digi...48514NCJRS.pdf
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Old 02-05-2014, 7:30 PM
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I remember CHP and other agencies calling Sacramento fairly often; especially if a vehicle was wanted in a serious crime and registration was urgently needed. The dispatchers would usually say something like "we're on the phone to Sacramento" or "still waiting to hear back from DMV" I assume the DMV records were hand searched and that could take some time. Also, a stopped motorist could be detained for a while if an agency needed to call Sacramento for registration information. That all changed in the 70's with automated registration search and AWWS for wants and warrants in L.A. County.
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Old 02-05-2014, 8:10 PM
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DMV used to have paper files on every registration,in giant cabinets located on an upper floor of DMV headquarters in Sacramento. DMV had a number of college students or other entry level clerks who would take a request from an agency via phone, teletype, or radio (one of the first uses of what is now the state's CLERS network), go pull the record from the files (many wore roller skates to move around the large room quickly), and respond to the requesting agency with the information. It would often take 10-20 minutes to get a return.

Computers sped things up and the paper files were stored on microfiche.
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Old 02-07-2014, 2:57 AM
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I remember seeing a LAPD training film that showed the main room for the "R & I" organization, the common acronym for the Records and Information organization. The information for registrations was on a card that resembled a long Rolodex that turned hundreds of these cards up to where the operator could read them. I think they just held a button down to keep the thing moving and read where they were in the alphabetically ordered rotary file. I don't know how the requests and results were exchanged by R & I and a dispatcher. I think they had a form on which the registration information was hand written. It then was moved to the dispatcher, who put into a machine that time stamped when they received it or when they transmitted the information to the unit. When you listened to the LAPD in the 60's and 70's there was a lot of background noise, the most obvious being those time/date stamp machines. The noise they made was louder than any other noise made in that room where the dispatcher consoles formed a horseshoe, with sworn officers receiving slips of paper from the officers that answered the phone. A double sides display was used and the radio operator would rotate it to show the unit's status. The officer in the middle of the horseshoe would then take the call slip and assign a unit to the call. He would slip it through a slot for the dispatcher time stamp and write further information on what actions were taken on the call. Each dispatcher worked a boom mike that picked up more background noise than the mikes used now.

The LAPD does not use ten codes so radio traffic from mobiles would be "14 Adam 56 requesting DMV on Nora Tom David 593." If the wait was long they would inquire the status of their "DMV" and might hear a reply such as "R&I is till processing." They would also request "wants and warrants" on one subject using whatever identification information was available. They might have gotten a reply such as "R&I has a possible out of Orange County and is verifying with them now."

I visited Parker Center, where the divisions south of Mulholland Drive were dispatched, two times on the annual public safety day. I asked for permission to stay in dispatch rather than follow the group for the rest of the tour. I found the whole process fascinating and I learned a few things by observing.

Harry Marnell and Radio Lady are far more knowledgeable about dispatch and R & I than I do. It would be interesting to explain how these entities worked and exchanged info. Did they have the same type of small conveyor belt that the call takers used to move the call slips into dispatch? Harry has a great website of LAPD history with good photos as well as a host of other interesting topics. It has been 45 years since I visited Parker Center the second time and my memory is probably fuzzy.

Here's the link to Harry's site: Marnell's Home Page
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Old 02-11-2014, 2:28 AM
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LASD before becoming "automated" in the early 70's had dispatchers at Station "B" at the Hall of Justice shoot a paper request in a vacuum pressured tube to the teletype room which where a teletype to DMV Sacramento was sent with a reply received by the same method.
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Old 02-11-2014, 12:55 PM
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Thanks for everyone's input. Very interesting to see how they made due with what they had, and how far it has come.

I hear dispatch doing DMV lookups and replying a nano-second after the officer closes his mic. What still takes time are county criminal records for out-of-county record searches, probation terms, that sort of thing. I did hear a guy who was stopped by CHP who had NY plates and DL, and they were there for 15 minutes before getting a response.

Anyway - thanks again for the info. Would be cool to see something on "History Channel" about that sort of thing.
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