Notice: This post will contain a bit of a rant. It’s gotta be done. But it’s relevant, so please endure it and you’ll see the point. It will explain a future post where I put together something technical (hint: recorder).
Some repeater systems, especially the (predominately Californian) network I’ve been monitoring lately, seem to attract folks with mental or emotional challenges. Those people suddenly find the need to interfere or transmit obscenities. Those who manage the network need tools and a logging recorder is one of those tools. Having a recording can help identify who, when, and where as well as providing great evidence with the FCC or in court.
In my professional capacity I work with people who are paid to gather information. If you’ve ever had an encounter with a cop you’ve most likely been asked to provide a written statement. You would have been instructed to write a brief narrative of events and to provide as much detail as possible. The officer gathers these statements from anyone involved or witnessing an event. Using these statements the entire story can be put together.
Unfortunately these same officers, for reasons known only to them, seem incapable or unwilling to provide similar statements. This is true even when it would benefit them, like fixing or improving their radio communications systems. They even go so far as to prefer to pass information third party rather than directly. It is very common, if I receive any notice of a problem, to be told something like “Officer Smith said the radios suck.” When I request more detail like time and location, if I get anything back at all it is something like “He said they sucked last night around 2100 hours and he was in his patrol car.” But what are you going to do? After all, these are trained experts in reporting.
What I have done is put together a system that gathers information from the field. Although it would be optimum to have the officers actual perspective, I won’t be able to do that. But I can come close. I do it with a series of logging recorders scattered across a dozen or so locations.
What is a logging recorder? It is a device that records and indexes information. A basic audio logging recorder for radio will record when a signal is transmitted, when one is received, the duration of the duration of the signal and will record the audio of the signal itself. These records are all time stamped and the timing must be accurate. We use these in 911 to record all telephone and radio traffic that can be used later in court or for quality control.
Those recorders have special controls that prevent the original recording from being deleted or modified and those units tend to cost $20,000+. They are worth every penny, I assure you. But when I need a dozen or more of them to gather information that officers refuse to provide…well, my budget requests keep being denied.
As it turns out, there is a way to do this without breaking the bank. Better yet, it makes use of a bunch of old computer gear that my department would otherwise have to pay to have destroyed. By now, if you’ve followed my common theme on this site lately, it involves an Asterisk server. That’s right, we’re building nodes. For this purpose I’ve gathered a box of CM108 chipset USB audio dongles and will use them with receivers on each of the law enforcement multicast transmitter site frequencies. But what I’m describing here works for any node you create, even ones you make for amateur radio, GMRS or any other service.