You wouldn’t have heard them on the AM or FM dial, but amateur radio operators in Indianapolis heard them loud and clear. Indianapolis police officers were heard on the 2-meter VHF amateur radio band using it for both personal and professional communications, littered with naughty words not allowed on the broadcast airwaves. The problem with this is that the cops didn’t have the amateur radio licenses necessary to use those bands. That’s why the Indy police department was motivated to take away their cops’ transceivers after getting complaints from local hams.
Of course, this situation begs the question of why the cops felt the need to have a second 2-way radio in the first place, given that police departments have their own set of frequencies set aside for just their use. Makes a person wonder just what, besides profanities, the cops were talking about on the 2-meter band that they didn’t want to talk about over normal police frequencies.
As it turns out the 2-meter band wasn’t such a good choice if privacy was their motivation. Hams tend to be pretty protective of the bands allocated for amateur radio, policing them pretty closely, generally on a 24-hour basis.
According to a local news report, “the FCC is letting Indianapolis police handle the issue internally,” even though apparently, “officer use of unauthorized frequencies goes back many years.” Should we be surprised at the double-standard in the treatment of flagrant unlicensed use of the airwaves? If the culprits had been plain old civilians making potty-mouthed broadcasts for “many years” without a license on the 2-meter band do you think the FCC would let them off the hook without a notice of apparent liability, nevermind a fine?
While I’ve been critical of the FCC’s policies for the licensing of broadcast stations and the accompanying enforcement measures, I do believe in equal treatment under the law. Seems as though having a badge means you can abuse the airwaves without a license, with the only punishment being that your chief will take your toys away.