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In Tactical Mode....
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
By Julia Spitz/Daily News staff
The MetroWest Daily News
Posted Aug 27, 2008 @ 09:27 PM

The GOA fox didn't make the cut. Neither did the DK in need of a good PC. Or the female party who was sectioned.

That's the way it goes with police scanner talk.

Some things aren't the sort we report.

Even fewer turn out to be classic "Hey, Marthas," items that make a reader turn to proverbial spouse Martha and say, "Hey, get a load of this."

Back when I worked every weekend, we had our share. Car lands on the roof of a house. "Hey, Martha." Send a photog ASAP. Moose on the loose. "Hey, Martha." We're on it.

But when I found myself back in scanner-listening mode last weekend, both shifts were relatively uneventful.

I didn't get to hear Monday's dialogue between the arresting officer and Framingham dispatcher when a man apparently had a run of double bad luck: breaking into a car that had already been broken into and not noticing the policeman on bike patrol.

Or the exchange that took place late Saturday night when Marlborough Police arrested a man who thought he was careening along a Granite State byway. While being taken to the police station, he alternately yelled profanities at police and sat quietly while appearing to pass out, but he was steadfast in his belief that his home in Salem, N.H., was "right around the corner."

I only know what I read in the paper about those "Hey, Marthas," but I think I know some of what was said over the scanner about the hapless would-be bandit and the DK (drunk).

Desk duty may not have led to great stories, but it did help me brush up on copspeak.

Women aren't women. They're female parties. Even the most vicious male party is usually referred to as "the gentleman."

Sometimes they can be like the fox reportedly walking in the middle of the road: GOA (gone on arrival). Sometimes they are so DK they need to be PC'ed (put into protective custody in a jail cell until they sober up).

On rare occasions, their actions pose such a danger to themselves or others they become a Section 12 (the portion of mental health law that covers emergency psychiatric evaluation), or a party in need of sectioning.

You don't want to be unresponsive around a cop because, in copspeak, unresponsive doesn't mean you're not keeping up your end of the conversation.

There's nothing funny about a person who can't breathe, but sometimes it's hard to resist being a smart-aleck, especially since the RP (reporting party) can't hear me when I snap back: Unresponsive? Like there's any other kind of male?

I know. Not PC, in the non-copspeak meaning of that abbreviation.

Abbreviations are an integral part of copspeak. RO: restraining order. BOLO: be on the lookout (for a suspect). MVA: Motor vehicle accident.

But elongations are equally integral to the language used by men and women in blue.

Male and female parties don't drive cars, they drive vehicles. And they don't get out of said vehicle, they exit or are extricated. Even after a bad accident, a vehicle isn't wrecked. It sustained damage. People sustain injuries. If the injuries are limited to multiple lacerations, the party is likely to be a walking wounded.

Technology has virtually killed one time-honored genre of copspeak elongation. Back before computers became standard in cruisers, a lot of time was devoted to asking a dispatcher to run a license number. To avoid confusion over whether the officer was saying C or T, letters were given names.

I kind of miss Charlie Tango. And Whiskey Zulu.

At least some of my favorite charges are still on the books.

Drinking from an open container always struck me as one that would be tough to beat. Can you really be drinking from a closed container?

Uttering is another favorite. Not that I condone writing bad checks. It just tickles me that uttering is the term for having insufficient funds.

A few hours of listening to the police scanner was a walk down memory lane, but also a reminder of something else.

Some calls were borderline silly. A few were distinctly sad. Most were routine, involving run-of-the-mill disorderly folks who may or may not be doing something wrong.

But the officers never know what they'll find when they respond to a call.
There's always the chance something seemingly amusing and trivial could turn out to be heart-breaking or deadly.

And no amount of familiarity with their slang can translate into understanding what their typical day is really like.

She obviously doesn't listen to us, she'd have so much more to write about.

Besides, she left out my favorite Charlie ---

Charlie Foxtrot!
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