My New Hobby


Song: Id Engager by of Montreal
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It happened innocently enough. I’ve become Twitter pals with someone who lives in my neighborhood. (Maybe one day I’ll write about how weird it is that I know someone from the ‘hood online and not in person, but then I’d probably also have to mention how I have a neighbor as a Facebook friend and never talk to him in person. You’d be right to suspect that I weigh 500 pounds and am incapable of leaving my house.) One evening, he was tweeting about a neighborhood shooting, and I was amazed by his inside knowledge. Yo dawg, I asked him (I didn’t actually refer to him as “dawg” or say “yo”), do you have an inside source at the DPD? No, he said. He was listening to the police scanner.

The police scanner? Holy shit. I didn’t even know this was possible. That night, I found RadioReference.com, which lets you listen to Denver (and other!) police, fire, and EMS. I curled up with my MacBook in bed and listened to it until I got nice and tired. I did that for the next few days.

Most of the time, you hear pretty routine shit. An officer will get called out because there’s some sort of altercation or a no-injury car accident. These are fine. My favorite is when there’s an “unwanted party,” which is a nice way of saying a trespasser or someone who shouldn’t be there (I always like imagining an unwanted party, like you’re just sitting at home one night and all of a sudden a party appears in front of your house and people are like drinking champagne and dancing and using those noisemakers you get on New Year’s Eve and don’t really understand, and you call the cops because you’re just not having that shit).

Of course, there’s all kinds of bad shit, too. There’s the grandma who calls the police on her teenage granddaughter who allegedly burned her baby with a curling iron (and they give names and addresses — there’s no confidentiality on the police scanner) or the mohawked kid who goes off his meds and tries to kill himself. One of the first nights, there was a woman at the Grand Hyatt who called EMS around midnight because she was shaky and hadn’t pooped in three weeks (I’m not making fun of her and hope she was okay, but I’m also trying to imagine how you go that long without pooping and then decide to call EMS while alone in a hotel — she must belong to the Tracy school of trying to ignore any potential health issues until they become unignorable).

Most of the time, the scanner is all business, but one time I heard two women talk about how one of them just got married and her husband lost his job so she was “wearing the pants” in the family. She didn’t seem very happy about it. I’m starting to recognize the voice of one of the EMS guys, but I still don’t really know who anybody is.

Of course, Ben makes fun of me for listening to the police scanner, which I now do every night as we’re going to sleep, using the Scanner911 iPhone app. (I can’t fall asleep for shit these days, and having something to listen to helps prevent my mind from racing like it usually does.) However, one night there was a police chase near our neighborhood, and we heard the whole thing. It was kind of awesome (even Ben thought so, although he won’t admit it), except for the parts that weren’t (somebody was killed and police officers were injured). The police were speeding down neighborhood streets chasing some dude, then blocked off his vehicle and he took off running, possibly wearing one or no shoes. Eventually the hounds were released. (The guy got away. I don’t know if he’s been found yet.)

Anyway, I recognize that listening to the police scanner is pretty freaking dorky, and puts me dangerously close to becoming one of those old people who sits outside with a cane and yells at the kids to get off her lawn while her little yappy dog barks her head off. It’s only a matter of time, isn’t it?