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COMMUNITY VOICE

Loss of public use of police scanners for me feels like losing a true friend

Friday, February 7, 2014 - 8:09 am

Having friends, acquaintances and family members as first responders and police dispatchers, I had an interest in wanting a police scanner.

A neighbor friend showed me his little scanner that needed to be adhered to a transistor radio and tuned to a specific channel. I had a Sony transistor radio, and it wasn't long after that I got the small beige police scanner. I was 16 years old.

When it was announced that all police traffic on scanners would be encrypted and unable to be heard by the general public, it was like losing a real friend. I was sad, then angry and very dumbfounded with lots of questions. Many times I would visit the communications room when my uncle, Richard Troutman, was with the Allen County Sheriff's Department. He was bigger than life in some ways, very professional and an excellent dispatcher. Another person in the bigger-than-life vein is my youngest brother, Steve, or Deputy Chief Steve Haffner. Early on when I was a ride-along with Steve, it was an evening that went fast. He is truly a top-notch officer and brother as well.

My fire and EMT friends are some of the finest people I know. I have enjoyed hearing their voices on the police scanner and, needless to say, will miss this.

Dispatchers can silence radio traffic between them and the officers if it is known that bad guys or girls have scanners or are listening. Very few have scanners or even understand the codes or signals used.

The statements uttered that encrypted radio traffic will ensure officer safety is without merit or fact. During this winter and past winters I have been able to alert many people without scanners to roadway issues long before the media does. I also have helped when I hear of any issue involving a disabled person.

My van is always ready if scanner traffic involves a missing child or elderly person. A police scanner is invaluable here and far more than a pastime.

After my old Bearcat scanner died I learned about Aboite Independent Radio and Tunein.com on the Internet. After I turn on the computer I bring the scanner up, at least I used to. Wow, from 16 to 61, that is a lot of police scanner listening.

God bless the officers, firefighters, troopers and EMTs. I guess this set of ears is signal 88.

Terry E. Haffner is a resident of Fort Wayne.