Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Wee Hours

Up late last night.....puttering around. Finally crashed about 3 a.m. (way too late, big mistake, tired today, etc. etc.) but not before I got a good LAPD caper followed by a quick-hit LAFD structure fire and a near-pursuit in Beverly Hills.

--About 2 a.m. a Devonshire Division two-man patrol unit picked up a pursuit. Can't really remember what the dude was wanted for (probably a stolen car: Code 37). He bolted and the primary unit lost sight of him, but luck and circumstance had the Air Unit overhead the whole time; so the helo never lost him.

Suspect takes off south and west towards West Valley Division and then TC's in a residential area. He foot bails and the Air Unit directs officers to a bunch of yards he was running through. The air unit officer starts to lose his cool as one officer starts fighting with the suspect in the yard and the other cops can't seem to find the right yard, even though the helo is lighting the place up like a sports stadium. At one point the dispatcher puts out the dreaded and rare "Help" call, but the dude was eventually cuffed by probably no less than a dozen cops.

Good pursuit and collar.

--A few minutes later over near South Boyle Heights, Engine 25 caught a structure fire. Station 25 is a pretty quiet house, but they caught a good burner with at least one exposure. Units from Battalion 2 got in there on a first alarm assignment and got a pretty quick knockdown--I think. I actually went to sleep in the middle of it. But not before locking into BHPD for a few minutes to hear the routine slew of late night traffic stops that always seem to focus on out-of-state plates.

--Right before I drifted off, however, a BHPD sergeant almost got the rare BHPD pursuit, when he lit up a car on 3rd Street heading out of the city. He called the T-Stop at 3rd & Sweetzer, well into LAPD Wilshire Division territory. Then he advised a "failure to yield" (precusor to full-blown pursuit). Vehicle finally pulled at 3rd & Crescent Heights, which is way deep into LA. A few BHPD backup units blasted over there because the car had at least one warrant (sounded felony), but they never requested LAPD. I'm betting someone went to jail, but I turned it off.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Been a long time...been a very, very, very long time

So I've been gone for a bit. Causes = New girlfriend and lots of typing at the job, which dampens my enthusiasm for typing when I get home from work. It's kept me away from the scanner for long stretches as well.

But now, I've got the old Sportcat 180 at work (part of our "disaster preparedness"!!!!). Sitting on the 15th floor of a Wilshire Boulevard hi-rise gives the old Sportcat good range and it's always plugged in, so no worries on the tired battery front--at least until we have the "Big One" and the power gets knocked out and my scanner dies after three hours or so.

A couple of fairly recent Scannerland highlights:

--Jet Blue flight 292 was scanned live from work. Weirdly, though we're 15 stories up with a clear wraparound view of 3/4 of the L.A. skyline, including LAX, the Sportcat wouldn't pick up any LAX VHF air traffic.

So, I made do with LAFD Tac and OCD 9 freqs where the ops were ongoing. LAFD gave out some bad info to their units regarding ETA of the crippled jet's landing, but otherwise it was pretty easy to get a good picture of what was going down. The live helo shots from local TV were pretty damn impressive too. LAFD had some crazy unit assignments at LAX for that one. Saw E37 (Westwood), E112 (San Pedro) on the tarmac and a few other units playing way out of their local sandboxes.

--Sitting at dinner at a hotel on Wilshire Boulevard the other night smack in the middle of Beverly Hills. Saw BHFD Engine 1 and Truck 4 hauling ass making right turns (west) from Rodeo Dr. onto Wilshire. Followed shortly by LACoFD Engine and Squad 7 (usually added as Automatic Aid on BHFD structure fire responses). Since they had made it into the center of BH from their station on San Vicente Boulevard in West Hollywood, it meant that there was a working incident since BHFD hadn't yet canceled them.

A few minutes later saw LAFD E108 (Coldwater Canyon/Mulholland Drive; a bigtime LAFD "retirement house") making the right turn onto Wilshire from Rodeo as well. That's a good 10 minute Code 3 response for old E108 so now I KNEW BHFD had a good fire going, and I was stuck at dinner. BH gets less than 10 decent fires a year, and probably about 3 GOOD rippers annually, and I was missing the Big one. Good dinner though.

BHFD clearly did a crew recall for off-duty personnel, because their Ford utility pickup truck soon cruised by Code 3 with the extremely expensive and amazingly awesome new USAR Rig right behind them cruising down Wilshire, lights ablaze.

Anyway, got home a few minutes later and got out of the car to hear the buzzing sound of news choppers hovering somewhere not too far away. Made it to my apartment in time for the 11 p.m. local news: Indeed an old 3-story center-hall apartment building in the charming Beverly Hills Spanish-style lit up about a mile from my house down Olympic Boulevard at McCarthy Drive. TV footage showed the 3rd floor and attic fully involved venting through much of the roof on initial arrival. No injuries, though a few dogs and cats didn't make it out.

Most amazing fact: LAFD sent a Major Emergency response (16 companies!!!), which in itself is a big fire with good scanning, not to mention the mutual aid component etc. It's my equivalent of good scanner porn: Think porn with video instead of still pics.

There's always next time. I just hope next time isnt my 1930's style Spanish apartment building.

And, as I always say, I'll try to be a bit more consistent on here for my two or three readers.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Westwood Fake Bomb Scare

Caught it on LAPD West Bureau Tac 1 around 2330 hours. Randomly, I was cruising westbound on Wilshire through Westwood about 45 mins before when I saw an LAPD two-man car going eastbound code 3.

Apparently, they had a suspicious device near Wilshire and Comstock outside a hotel near the intersection. They were operating on Tac 1, closing Wilshire and blocking various streets. Basic cars (8A59) and extra and reserve units (8Z3, 8X98) were evacuating people from the surrounding high dollar apartment hi-rises. Not a great place for a high-powered bomb to light off around midnight. Bomb squad rolled and I heard some intriguing traffic about "two vans parked near the hotel that were used to transport Saudi Arabian diplomats to the hotel." The device must have been near the vans. It was all Code 4 about an hour after it started prior to the Bomb Squad's arrival.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Veering Off Topic

It's been nearly three months since I published my last post. In that time, I've listened to a lot of scanning and just haven't had the energy to post. My Bearcat BC296D (Trunktracker IV) kicks ass. I just got around to programming the L.A. County Fire (with Long Beach Fire, and assorted Marine VHF frequencies thrown in for good measure) into the unit.

In general--now that I'm digital--I think the best way to cover the parts of the Southland that I live in, and care about, is to do something similar to the following.

I live west of La Cienega Boulevard, but east of the ocean. North of the Santa Monica (10) Freeway, but south of Mulholland. So that's my immediate area of interest. It extends beyond that pretty much to the LA County line (at speaking in terms of fire departments) and pretty much limited to the LAPD, CHP and Beverly Hills on the law enforcement side of things. I learned long ago that listening to the LA County Sheriff's frequency is an exercise in frustration.

That said, here's how I scan most effectively: Bank 1 is all of the LAPD frequencies, grouped by bureau. Since I live in West Bureau, I start with West LA base, followed by the simplex and continue through the divisions thusly. I include the bureau tac frequencies at the end of the group. So on and so forth all the way through most of the frequencies found on the LAPD ASTRO (portable) radios. I then lock out the entire bank.

Bank 2 includes (at this point at least) only a few freqs. They include the Beverly Hills PD, and immediate area CHP freqs. The CHP is a tough listen because the base and mobile freqs for specific divisions are separate. From where I live, the base freq (CHP PINK) comes in fairly clear, but I almost never hear the mobiles unless it's a very calm, clear night, or they're super-close. I keep that bank on scan with a few of the tacs locked out (l/o).

Bank 3 is closest to my heart: It's the LAFD freqs in ascending order as programmed on their radios. I also have Beverly Hills and Santa Monica Fire's freqs in the bank and keep them unlocked as well. As for the LAFD, I keep the main administrative and ancillary channels l/o but leave the primary dispatch channels and all of the fireground tacs unlocked. Bank 3 remains on perma-scan as well.

As of this past Sunday, I added (through the magic of programming the scanner via computer= great invention) the cumbersome LA County Fire freqs. Until about two years ago, I avoided LACoFD scanning like the plague. It's totally different than LA City's SOP and takes a bit of getting used to. But once you've got it wired, in some ways it's crisper than the LAFD's traffic, but never as encompassing or as informative. However, it's pretty easy to get a quick handle on the large scope of incidents going on at any one time in the country's largest county.

Before I transitioned to the new digitial scanner (and thus, reopening the LAPD option) I also regularly monitored Gerber Ambulance (transporting for Santa Monica FD and AMR, tranporting for LACoFD). But that's just too much chatter for me to handle these days.

As for daily utility listening. I have also added the LAPD Air/K9 (Hotshots) freq in Bank 3 along with the LAFD. That way I hear the LAPD hotshots go down and if something sounds interesting, I quickly unlock Bank 1 and go directly to the LAPD freq that's hosting the incident. This, of course, limits my listening to that particular frequency at that time, because l/o all the other freqs on Bank 1 would be a serious pain in the ass. Though I am often tempted to l/o the Hotshots freq (and have for months at a time in the past) because of the burdensome nature of lots of the LAPD dispatches (missing persons descriptions and long descriptions of suspects breaking into vehicles, etc.) I have made an effort to keep it unlocked. The great LAPD calls, especially the pursuits and other wackiness are worth wading through the bullshit Code 2 calls and impossibly long dispatches. The only drawback: It's a great way to miss a good fire dispatch or size-up on another frequency while the scanner is stuck on Hotshots.

I am debating whether or not I want to consolidate some freqs into Bank 5 where I would simply duplicate the primary freqs that I already listen to over 3 banks. But to do that, then I would have to switch back to the particular freq or bank for specific incident listening.

If I were to do it this would be the ideal setup:

--LAPD Air/K9 Hotshots (also totally doable on an analog scanner at 154.830)
--LAFD OCD 4 (City EMS Dispatch)
--LAFD OCD 7 (City Fire Dispatch)
--LAFD OCD 8 (Valley EMS/Fire Dispatch)
--LAFD OCD 9 (Major Incident Dispatch, i.e. Brush, Hi-Rise, MCI et. al)
--LACoFD Blue 8 (Countywide Dispatch)
--Beverly Hills PD Dispatch
--Beverly Hills Fire Dispatch
--CHP West LA Base (CHP Pink)

That would provide a good enough overview to chase the biggest Fire/EMS/Law Enforcement incidents (minus the LASO, but those incidents can be picked through clever deduction of LACoFD dispatches).

And that, my friends, is a good overiew of how I scan.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

The Joys of Scanning Part 1

In what I hope will be a continuous feature, I will sometimes spot post when I am engrossed in Scannerland and something that makes it all worth it goes down. Now that I once again have access to the LAPD's vast catalog of frequencies, it will happen more often than before.

Example: Last night about midnight: Patrol officers in the fine division of Hollywood began following a vehicle which turned out to be stolen. Though proper procedure dictactes a helicopter above and at least one back-up unit behind before affecting a traffic stop, sometimes the suspects just won't wait.

These guys certainly didn't and the two suspects fled in the vehicle initiating a short pursuit, which ended a mere two minutes later when the gentlemen crashed into a vehicle in cross-traffic and then lodged the stolen car against a light post. The inevitable and breathless radio transmissions followed with the LAPD officer asking for two ambulances: one for the unconcious driver of the suspect vehicle and a second for the innocent bystander who was also KO'd.

That, my friends, is a down and dirty Joy of Scanning moment, and it's why scanning is great. Because you don't have to be a cop or a suspect to enjoy the benefits of being both.

Link of the moment: Maui County EMS, Maui Hawaii. Not technically a SoCal site, but courtesy of DaveK, working hard and hardly working in Hawaii.

NOTE: Fun/Lame images will be added shortly.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

First Links

In celebration of my inaugural post, I have added two links to the right. The first is the most comprehensive frequency site I've ever encountered: It's run by a guy named Tracy Justus up in Ventura County. Sometimes it has formatting problems if you're running Internet Exploder, but try to close your "Favorites" tab before you load the site. (or, alternatively, stop being retarded and download Mozilla's Firefox. Word.)

The second, is the LAPD's official site: It's actually pretty comprehensive, and the section on each division is worth checking out. Tons of detail on the department, and in each divison, it provides summaries of crime in the particular areas written by the divisons' Senior Lead Officers. The "SLOs" (pronounced SLOWS) are senior officers who are assigned to liasion with particular neighborhoods in each division. You wont be able to hear them called SLOs on the LAPD's radio traffic, but the LAPD's site identifies them by their unit identifier, so if you were really diligent, and really gave a shit, you could correlate the two.

Later, however, I'll devote an entire post to the LAPD's radio system and why I spent $600 to buy a new scanner just to hear them. And then I'll tell you about my love/hate relationship with the LAPD's scanner traffic.

Code 6 Charles


I've recently decided the internet is not a "fad" as I've long
believed. I see the tempest of blogs swirling around me and I finally
gave in.

I have nothing at all to say. I do, however, listen to my scanner a
shitload. It has tons to say.

So, this is my site,

I have no affiliation with any public safety organization in Los Angeles City or County. I now live my workdays in a world far removed from Scannerland, but I have long been fascinated (and at times in my life intimately involved in public safety) with the lights and siren world. This site is an attempt to shed light, comment upon, make fun of, pass judgement and generally chronicle the comings and goings I hear on my scanner.

When I'm enjoying the relative solace of my home, I listen to my scanner much as others relax to the background noise of a CD or the hum of a television. At home, this provides me with between one and four hours of listening on any given day. I often fall asleep with the scanner buzzing on my bedside table. Pathetic? Maybe. But after about 15 years of listening, much of that in the City of Los Angeles, I think I know my shit.

In fact, I'm listening right now, and it's a pretty quiet night in the City of L.A. LAFD Engine 39 is working a traffic accident in the Van Nuys area where the Captain just requested three additional Basic Life Support Ambulances. Translation: Lots of banged up people, maybe some fake neck/back pain. It gets contagious when people in traffic accidents see other victims complaining of pain and getting the VIP ambulance treatment. Suddenly, the $$$$$ signs flash before their very eyes, and they start feeling the pain....

There are plenty of folks in Southern California who know more about radios, procedures, frequencies, the physics of radio waves and other assorted topics than I do. But I've got a good handle on the big picture, and the small details. And while there are Yahoo Groups, forums, and plenty of frequency database sites, all with message and comment boards attached, I've yet to see a good Scannerland blog. This is my attempt.

I'm a pretty busy guy, so I don't envision posting everyday. But every time I post, I'll add a scanner or public safety-related link to that section. That's the only goal I am setting for myself.

Welcome to Here we go.