Tuesday, April 26, 2005

You Have The Right To Remain Nosy

I subscribe to my local newspaper's newsletter, made possible by StarNet, the online service of the Arizona Daily Star. Rarely do I have the time to sit down and read the real paper, except on weekends. The daily email is a quick way to keep up with what's happening around town. If a U.F.O. lands in Sabino Canyon, I may miss the actual event, but I'll get to read about it a day later.

Today, these news snippets caught my attention:

NewsTalk
What should be depicted on the back of the Arizona quarter to be minted in 2008? Gov. Janet Napolitano said she wants schoolchildren to be part of the selection process.
[thinks] Mention to Kaity. She might have some ideas. Deadline? Nah, enough to do.

Pet abandonment hits peak in May
Pets are abandoned year-round in Tucson when their owners move away, but in May the problem gets a little worse. That's when departing college students, snowbirds and locals going on summer vacation leave pets behind...
[thinks] Oh, my God! What's wrong with people? [walks over to cat, pets him lovingly, returns to computer] Tucson!

New for commuters: Accident reports, live traffic cams and police scanner!
Before you head out the door, listen to police and fire department radio transmissions while you check the traffic via remote cameras and a list of recent accidents.
"The live audio feed scans Tucson-area police, fire and other agencies' radio transmissions," reads the blurb on the scanner page. I click through and turn up my computer speakers, focusing in on what appeared to be the police communications. Sometimes it was hard to tell the difference between the different public safety transmissions.

[thinks] Like listening to the pilot channel on an airplane. Kinda interesting. [yawns] I guess. [yawns, interest peaks, listens] Child abuse investigation. Nine-month pregnant woman having trouble breathing. Car parked in the middle of the road with a male slumped over the wheel. (Some guy) harassing patrons in the parking lot. Morse code? Person with medical problems hasn't been heard from in a couple of days. Huh? Gun shots? 41-year-old male DOA. Morse code? Go down the alley! Go down the alley! Police chase. Cardiac arrest. Walk through schoolyard to make sure bad guy didn't dump a gun in it.

Just singling out the police broadcasts was amazing enough. I didn't grow up in a law enforcement family. I don't know anyone in law enforcement personally. But I am totally amazed at this unedited peek into their lives. Somehow, the reality is more riveting than the Hollywood versions passed off as entertainment.

If you listen to a police scanner long enough, in just about any municipality, eventually you'll begin to appreciate the daily stress, never-ending responsibilities and amazing dedication of police officers.

I kept the Web-based scanner on for a couple of hours while I answered email, researched and wrote, took phone calls, and in general, went about my daily business. Thanks to the Web, I shared in someone else's real-life danger (remotely) and now, I am in awe.

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