Has anyone helped out a PD about a call heard on your scanner?

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xpawel15x

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I was just wondering if for example your local PD is looking for a possible drunken driver and they gave the plate over the radio and you happened to be driving in the area and heard it on your scanner and you're behind the car they're looking for , should you call 911 and tell them you heard it on your scanner and have located the vehicle they're looking for? How does a Police Dept. react about ppl that have scanners and want to be helpful? Any experience, tips, or comments. Also is it better to stay annonimous and keep driving after they stop it or could you pull over and let the cops know it was you that called it in. I just don't want to get in trouble if I ever want to help.
 
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chrismol1

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xpawel15x said:
I was just wondering if for example your local PD is looking for a possible drunken driver and they gave the plate over the radio and you happened to be driving in the area and heard it on your scanner and you're behind the car they're looking for , should you call 911 and tell them you heard it on your scanner and have located the vehicle they're looking for? How does a Police Dept. react about ppl that have scanners and want to be helpful? Any experience, tips, or comments. Also is it better to stay annonimous and keep driving after they stop it or could you pull over and let the cops know it was you that called it in.
They'd probably be annoyed that an "untrained" "civilian" is aiding them with a police matter. Anything to keep u away as u being the "untrained civilian"
 

xpawel15x

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chrismoll said:
They'd probably be annoyed that an "untrained" "civilian" is aiding them with a police matter. Anything to keep u away as u being the "untrained civilian"
You think they'd be annoyed huh? Any source for your post?
 

57Bill

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It's always best to "keep your eyes on the road, and your hand upon the wheeel" and your mouth shut.
Source: Roadhouse Blues
 

xpawel15x

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57Bill said:
It's always best to "keep your eyes on the road, and your hand upon the wheeel" and your mouth shut.
Source: Roadhouse Blues
So you're saying if you would be behind a vehicle your local PD or whatever is looking for, you would not call it in? I though most police departments would be happy to get tips from civilians. Isn't that the idea with neighborhood watches and stuff and being able to stay annonomous.
 

af5rn

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LOL@Roadhouse Blues :lol:

It has been my experience and observation that they appreciate the help, so long as it is indeed helpful and not just a distraction or wild goose chase. In small towns, cops expect that everybody is listening anyhow. In big cities, your message has gone through three hands before it gets to the cop on the street, so they never know you're a scanner listener to begin with.

If you call something in, just say, "Hey, you're looking for a black guy in a pink Cadillac and a purple hat? Well, I just saw him ducking into the Stop & Rob on Rosedale for a forty-ouncer." It's pretty rare that the call taker would even ask you how you knew they were looking for that guy.

On a DWI, you don't have to say you know they're looking for him. Just say you're following a drunk driver. They almost always appreciate those, because they love tagging drunks. They'll usually come up to you and thank you afterwards, as well as asking what all you observed before they arrived.

Cops rarely get paranoid or annoyed over this kind of stuff. The ones that do are just dicks to begin with.
 

45SigSauer

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Yes I have "tried" to help. I heard they were about to serve a Drug warrant on a certain person, and I knew where he was (my house), so I called the dispatch, explained what I heard, and how, and where the suspect could be found. I was told in no certain terms to mind my own business, after about 30-45 minutes of this eating me up, I called again and said I was trying to be a helpful citizen and didn't appreciate the attitude, and if you want I will hold this suspect at my house until you arrive, again I was told to stay out of it, it was none of my business, 10 minutes later the Sargent on duty calls me and says if I call again they would come to my house and arrest me, I said good, and while your here you can serve the warrant on the loser drug dealer. No one ever showed up. After one failed attempt after another, (and lots of my tax dollars) it took them another 4-5 months to catch this guy.
My community is always asking for the citizens help, to keep a watchful eye, but when you do, they make YOU feel like the criminal. I'm done!
 
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jb872033

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i have had both good and bad experiences with this subject...diffrent towns but i find that smaller towns are more ignorant of people helping...the bigger town the better understanding people have of how that kind of thing works and how eyes on the street can be helpful especially to an understaffed force...in the rural towns though they find that you are eavesdropping or what not...

JB
 

LEH

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I've called with info I've heard on the scanner several times.

In one particular case, the local call taker was friendly as I explained what I was doing. I followed the car in question (obeying the laws) and stayed on the phone until PD was able to catch up and pull him over. I heard the dispatcher telling the units where I was with only a few seconds delay.

The guy was all over the road (and sidewalk). When they finally caught up, I pointed him out and kept going. Didn't try to stop on the off chance the guy was going to come out fighting.

Once they had him out, the called for the medics. Guy was in diabetic shock.

For the most part, my experiences have been positive.
 

mciupa

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chrismoll said:
They'd probably be annoyed that an "untrained" "civilian" is aiding them with a police matter. Anything to keep u away as u being the "untrained civilian"
You're joking, right ?:confused: :eek: :roll:

Around here , we call in our tips and are known as "concerned citizens"
 

Tommahawk

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I guess I take this from another perspective. I worked in Public Safety a number of years in the county I live in and through that have gotten to know a lot of individuals in the public safety realm. Quite a few of those in Law Enforcement came to me when they had radio or computer related questions back in the 90's.

Anyway there were several times when I was listening to the Scanner/Communications receiver and heard calls that were very near me and I did a drive by to be nosey and actually was able to follow what was happening before Law Enforcement arrived.

From a safe distance, I have followed suspect vehicles and gave information to the law enforcement agencies. Once again I never placed my self in danger. Thats pretty damn stupid. Long story short they appreciated my help. Probably because of my experience in public safety (I worked for both a PSAP and a Law Enforcement Agency myself as a civillian) they never thought twice about it.

In my case the experience and interaction was great, as I had additional training working in the position I did compared to individuals on the street and I knew what to expect. I can see the same thing happening to John Doe on the street and he is verbalized for it by LE Officers. Most individuals become engrossed in the thrill of the chase and will often follow someone very close, thus sticking themselves into harms way.

The most memorable thing occurred to me back in 2003. I was following a vehicle that was definentley DUI. Being there weren't any other cars on the road at 3:30 in the morning and I didn't have a Cell Phone, I used a local Amateur Radio Repeater telephone patch to contact the PA State Police and explained the situation. After providing details the State Police finally arrived in the area about 10 minutes after I called. I witnessed this drunk try to turn into a cornfield, stop at a green light, and then go through the red light and then try to turn into a cornfield again. I followed the guy through the red light because I felt he was a safety risk to everyone involved. Anyway the PA State Police were approaching us and I flagged them down to follow the vehicle. They got in front of me and started to follow the vehicle for about 1 mile until he drove straight into the other lane and ran head on into a oncoming vehicle. Because of my assistance this jackass is off the road and thank goodness it wasn't a fatal accident.
 
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trace1

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xpawel15x,

If I were you, and just happened to be behind a suspected DUI/DWI driver whether or not it just been dispatched, I'd go ahead and make a call to dispatch informing them of a possible drunk driver. I wouldn't mention though that I had just heard it on the scanner, it may or may not bring some unwanted attention your way.
 

w5cyc

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I've made calls more than once, and I live in a town of about 80K. Of course, I always identified myself to dispatch as the newspaper reporter, and they knew I had a scanner anyway, so it was no big deal.

I've generally not gotten any attitude that wasn't positive when I've tried to help. Particularly when you can relay your information in dispatchese, which is easy for them to then relay back to officers.
 

Tim-in-TX

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Here is a story from 2006:
(pay attention to the part that I bolded and underlined)

3/23/06-Tyler
Details Unfold Of DPS Trooper Shot

A violent night in Tyler, a trooper is shot, leading police on a chase filled with gunfire. In the end, there were two crime scenes marked off by police tape, one where the D.P.S. trooper was shot, the other, where the chase between the suspects and police ended.

Here's the rundown on injuries.

The Trooper who was shot, Steven Michael Stone is listed in fair condition. One of the alleged shooters is also in the hospital. He is in serious condition. And the second suspect is in police custody.

It began a little after 9 p.m. on Highway 31 East, about 8 miles east of Tyler. D.P.S Trooper Steven Stone was making a traffic stop for speeding.

Trooper had probable cause to arrest driver, during the arrest, the driver pulled a hand gun from his waist band and began firing the weapon point blank at trooper stone striking him in the left shoulder

Authorities say the passenger also began shooting at Trooper Stone.

The driver, later identified as Ramon Ramos, and passenger Francisco Saucedo fled the scene in their blue Dodge truck.

Captain Audra Livingston, D.P.S., "Trooper Stone was able to make it back to his vehicle where he radioed his communication that he had been shot and he needed help."

Around 9:30p.m., Tyler police department received a call from a citizen who had been monitoring the situation on his scanners.

Chief Gary Swindle, Tyler police department, said, "He had seen the Hispanic male in a black truck at the La Machoacana Grocery store at Beckham and Line, and he said it looked like the guy that we were looking for officers spotted the truck... And the suspects fled from the parking lot."

That's when the chase began. Seventy-five to 100 rounds of ammunition were fired from the suspect's vehicle at officers during the pursuit.

Today, these police cars are evidence of that pursuit... With bullet holes on the side, in the front windshield and then right next to the head rest.

The chase ended at highway 64 east about a mile outside the Loop 323.

Chief Swindle said, "The suspect vehicle made a veer right off to the right where it struck a vehicle parked on the shoulder. The vehicle turned over on it's side."

That's when the suspects were taken into custody. Police discovered that both Ramos and Saucedo were wearing body armor and had a number of weapons in their truck.

Investigators were left with the task of figuring out why these two men had weapons and body armor with them.

Karolyn Davis, reporting

(See http://www.kltv.com for story)
 

Austin4Wyo

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w5cyc said:
I've generally not gotten any attitude that wasn't positive when I've tried to help. Particularly when you can relay your information in dispatchese, which is easy for them to then relay back to officers.
I dunno about that. I've heard often enough that dispatchers don't often appreciate private citizens trying to use radio discipline because they often don't have the training they need to get it right. It seems like it'd be more useful to simply speak in plain English and let those on the radio do the translating into whatever radio discipline the officers on the street are using.

Of course, if you've received the formal training in terms of your locale radio jargon, this is pretty moot, but I can just imagine someone trying to use brevity codes without knowing their full meaning and doing nothing but confusing a poor dispatcher and further slowing down the process of getting officers on scene.

That being said, recently here we had a big fight at one of the local cowboy joints where weapons were involved (brass knuckles). I happened to be home that night, since I quit working at my local watering hole (wear I spent three years as a manager, head bouncer, server, bartender, etc...believe me, the police became my best friends a few times when the boys got a little out of hand in the bar), and heard the call go out over dispatch. Subjects flee the scene, etc etc...suddenly I look up, and there's two guys standing behind my grill in the front yard fitting the description of the subjects they were seeking. I immediately grab my bullhorn (a memento of working in the University of Wyoming athletic department for a time) and scare the bejesus out of them with the horn part. As soon as they're out of the yard, I immediately call them in. An officer comes over, I speak with him, give him their direction of travel, et all.

About two hours later, the f***heads are in my yard again, this time poking around behind my grill! I didn't even have to call at that point, since I'd requested extra patrols the rest of the night. As I was just starting to dial in, I see cherries and berries and spotlights all over my yard, and sure enough, I've got two SO units and several cops converging. Busted, big time. Turns out they'd ditched the knuckles behind my grill and were trying to find them.

Man, I'm glad I'm gonna be moving off the bar crawl route soon.
 
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mjthomas59

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Being the newer guy in law enforcement, and having sat in the position that most of you all do, that is hearing something on the scanner and wondering... what should i do?? do i call? do i not??

Trust me it is always better to call. I'll never forget the day i was driving to the academy and observed 2 younger females standing beside their car on the interstate. It was about 6:30 am and i was tired and not feeling like doing anything. So i didn't. I drove past them and left them stranded. It wasn't until about 30 minutes later that i heard the local pd get a call to assist those 2 girls. I felt like crap about not making the call when i observed them, and although i don't feel the necessity to stop and render aide, making the call was something i should have done. You have to remember that even though "everyone has a cellphone" in reality not everyone does, and those that do may have a dead battery, no reception, etc. That and there are thousands of people just like me that day who said "i'm sure someone else called the police for them so everything is fine". Everything was fine, but they stood out roadside in the freezing cold for 1/2 an hour longer than they would have if i'd called when i drove past them.

As a road deputy the only thing that pisses me off more is when i get the dispatch for a drunk driver and it takes me 5-10 minutes to get into the area. By then the suspect vehicle is more than likely gone and on its way to wrecking into a ditch or another vehicle. If you see the vehicle and you know the police are looking for it, and there isn't a cop in sight, just make the call and let them know where you are. Leave out the part of the scanner(it doesn't really matter how you heard about it), just say it was weaving or driving on the sidewalk, or whatever unsafe thing you observed the vehicle doing. If you are able to stay on the line with the dispatcher and follow the vehicle then that makes it even better and makes my job much easier in locating it.

HOWEVER UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES STOP AND WANT TO BE RECOGNIZED FOR YOUR GOOD DEED. IF YOU PULL UP BEHIND ME ON A TRAFFIC STOP BE PREPARED TO BE TAKEN INTO CUSTODY FOR MY SAFETY AND YOURS!! I CAN'T STRESS THAT ENOUGH, HINTS THE ALL CAPS. BE A GOOD CITIZEN AND CALL IT IN, BUT DONT' INTERFERE WITH THE VEHICLE STOP. IT WILL GET PEOPLE HURT, INCLUDING ME, WHICH WILL MAKE ME VERY ANGRY!! WHEN YOU PULL UP BEHIND ME I DONT' KNOW YOU AND YOU DON'T KNOW ME. IS THE PERSON WHO JUST STOPPED BEHIND ME MR GOOD SAMARITAN OR JOE POOPHEAD WITH WARRANTS AND A TENDENCY OF FIGHTING THE POLICE?? I HAVE NO WAY OF KNOWING, AND WITH A DRUNK DRIVER IN FRONT OF ME I DON'T HAVE TIME TO DEAL WITH ANYONE ELSE.

Be prepared, as dispatchers get stressed out on the job, that they aren't always the most friendly. And there will be times where you call information in and they say "we already know that" and hang up. It is a reality of the business, and although unfortunate, shouldn't hinder you from calling in information anyway. As far as calling in information in regards to a person having warrants, or him being at your house.... i mean first off why is the guy in your house to begin with? If i know a person has warrants, and a drug dealer at that, why would he be in your home, and why would you associate with him? A tip like that is thrown in the trash because it sounds more like an ambush than a helpful hint to the police. I'm not going to judge who you hang out with, or who you use to hang out, but based on the fact you knowingly have a drug dealer in your home, and you know he has warrants, puts your credibility in the toilet from a LEO standpoint. I'm not trying to call anyone out, but you gotta think about it from another perspective.

Just be safe out there, call in tips, and stay out of official business by the police, i.e. serving warrants and traffic stops. Those are the most dangerous and deadly times for the police, so do your best not to interfere with them. As far as using 10 codes, dont. It throws off the dispatchers because when they pick up the phone their brain isn't programmed to understand those codes from anyone other than guys on the radio. Don't ask me why thats just the way it happens. If i call in i give my DSN and it triggers that part of the brain in them that understands 10 codes. As a private citizen there is no reason to use them, hints why a lot of police departments are eliminating 10 codes to begin with.
 
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SAR923

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Ditto to all the above. Couldn't have written it better myself. I'd emphasize the part about following. It rarely does any good to call in a drunk and then turn off in another direction two blocks away. The drunk will be gone off in some unknown direction by the time I get to your last location. Try to follow at a safe distance and give the dispatcher updates if the drunk makes a turn or stops. You'll find that officers will respond a lot faster if they know there's a follower. Also remember that many larger departments have call takers who don't know radio codes much better than the average citizen. Just use plain English and you'll both have an easier time of it.
 

Airdorn

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mjthomas59 said:
Being the newer guy in law enforcement, and having sat in the position that most of you all do, that is hearing something on the scanner and wondering... what should i do?? do i call? do i not??

Trust me it is always better to call. I'll never forget the day i was driving to the academy and observed 2 younger females standing beside their car on the interstate. It was about 6:30 am and i was tired and not feeling like doing anything. So i didn't. I drove past them and left them stranded. It wasn't until about 30 minutes later that i heard the local pd get a call to assist those 2 girls. I felt like crap about not making the call when i observed them, and although i don't feel the necessity to stop and render aide, making the call was something i should have done.
Stop lying. You were just PO'ed you missed a chance to get laid. ;)
 

RolnCode3

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Off-duty, never been involved in anything like this.

On-duty, I try my hardest to hear every call I can get to on my scanner or my Motorola radios.

As for anyone helping based on scanner calls - never had positive interaction. Had one negative interaction (person decided to do countersurveillance), and several neutrals (mostly media inquiries about activity).
 

kb2vxa

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In times past every time I tried to help all I got was ABUSE and THREATS from police so these days it's NO WAY JOSE, buddy you're on your own!
 
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