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Amateur Radio Operators to Help Keep Halloween Safe:

from wisconsinrapidstribune.com on October 29, 2009
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Amateur Radio Operators to Help Keep Halloween Safe:

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Watch out Kids. Ham Buffoons are watching!:  
by WA4D on October 29, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Only Ham Radio operators take pride in being community informants. Much like the Stasi in East Germany or the NKVD under Stalin, these Hams use their radios to call in and report on their fellow citizens.

It is amusing and pathetic to read Police Chief Lewandowsi's remarks. No mention is made of what criteria or training is required. Just show up with a radio and call in suspicious behavior of whoever you see.

These hams have no law enforcement powers, but like Dudley Do-right, they've appointed themselves guardians of their community. Using methods that are more akin to those living in totalitarian regimes the city of Grand Rapids, in that rustiest of the Rust Belt states Michigan will be made safer by these radio snitches.

Look for the Police Chief to pat them on the head and declare their participation a success.
 
RE: Watch out Kids. Ham Buffoons are watching!:  
by KB1QXR on October 29, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
WA4D- I think it's a bit harsh to compare a city's Hamwatch program to the Stasi... This is just a neighborhood watch program.

However I do worry somewhat about it- I suspect the result of it will be more dealing with teenage kids doing harmless mischief than real criminal activity. With kids now getting arrested for bringing boy scout knives into school, a report-happy hamwatch along with an overzealous PD could create an unfortunate scenario.

If the kids want to throw toilet paper rolls into trees I say let them have their fun for the night, the energy could be better spent on a post-halloween cleanup program to engage the teenagers in cleaning up their community. Make it count for their community service hours (do schools still do that?)

On the other hand if these guys are looking for actual criminal activity, ie abductions etc and are told to ignore the stupid kids as long as they aren't breaking things, then have at it.



I think the main thing here would be in whatever training they get, IE what is worth reporting and what isn't. Without at least a little training or a pamphlet or something with reporting guidelines I suspect this will be of only marginal use to the local PD, with very mixed up levels of reporting among different hams.
 
Hams who conduct "surveillence" on Kids  
by WA4D on October 30, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
KB1QXR....your comments noted and sensible. Still I'd like to see the demographics of the Hams who participate in these ridiculous activities.

I'm betting most of these people are

1) Not military veterans.
2) Are not professionals [I.E. Hold jobs that require post graduate education]
3) Are Relatively "new" hams.
4) Are not well read. [What's that you say? What the hell does reading books have to do with anything?]
5) Are low to middle income. [ Yes position in social structure is a relevant indicator)
 
RE: Watch out Kids. Ham Buffoons are watching!:  
by KQ9J on October 30, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
It's about SAFETY for the trick or treaters, not being a narc trying to ruin a good time. When my kids were small I felt better having these guys out there. It's a lot harder to find an abducted child than try to prevent it.

Don't pay much attention to the WA4Dog's comments. If a dozen beautiful chicks came to his house each carrying a million dollars and a case of cold beer, he'd find something wrong with it.
 
RE: Watch out Kids. Ham Buffoons are watching!:  
by WA1RNE on October 30, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
by WA4D on October 30, 2009

I'm betting most of these people are

1) Not military veterans.
2) Are not professionals [I.E. Hold jobs that require post graduate education]
3) Are Relatively "new" hams.
4) Are not well read. [What's that you say? What the hell does reading books have to do with anything?]
5) Are low to middle income. [ Yes position in social structure is a relevant indicator)


>>> Profiling a Halloween patrol? Pretty cynical post don't you think?

When I was a kid I participated in these patrols in my home town. Back in the Civil Defense days the town had a club of sorts that ran a weekly net on 6 meter AM. \The Halloween patrol was an exercise to check mobile readiness and at the same time report the PITA's throwing eggs at people homes. I figured this was gone with the times but apparently not in some areas.


...WA1RNE
 
Amateur Radio Operators to Help Keep Halloween Safe:  
by KB9VSQ on October 30, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
KQ9J Bob
Check out the URL http://www.eham.net/articles/22696

Like you said "It's a lot harder to find an abducted child than try to prevent it".
To the detractors of this post. Isn't that it in a nutshell?
If not I pray you don't have children or grandchildren.

Semper FI
 
RE: Amateur Radio Operators to Help Keep Halloween Safe:  
by KB1QXR on October 30, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
kb9vsq-

I believe just because you CAN do a thing which MIGHT help, doesn't mean you necessarily SHOULD do that thing. I don't have kids, and perhaps I'd feel differently if I did. However until then, I give you this-

"If we don't stop and do our homework, we can waste our noblest instincts on BS. It's easy to feel like a hero, it's a little harder to be one." --Penn Gilette


The following is a bit rambly, but I'm getting to a point...


Almost all of the horrible intrusive laws passed over the past several years have been passed on the promise of combating either child abduction or terrorism. Our media hypes up these two stories, because it leads to viewers. And this gets the idea stuck in peoples minds that we have big abduction/terrorism problems in this country.


School shootings were no different. In the post-Columbine era schools started all kinds of absurd rules (backpacks must be see-thru plastic, etc) and zero tolerance policies against 'weapons in school', 'sexual predators', etc. These are done with the noblest of intentions, but the worst of consequences.

For example- in early October a well-behaved Delaware 6-year-old joined the cub scouts. Excited about his new hobby, he brought a cub scout tool to his school- a gadget that unfolds into a fork, knife and spoon for eating. He wanted to use it at lunch to eat with. But that gadget included a knife, and a knife is a weapon, so this perfectly behaved 6 year old was sent to reform school for 'bringing a weapon to class'. Principal claims that the law, as written, gives him zero authority to use common sense. Don't believe me? Here's the link
http://www.myfoxhouston.com/dpp/news/dpgo_boy_suspended_cub_scouts_tool_lwf_20091012_4002668
Same article also mentions how a 3rd grader was expelled for bringing birthday cake and a KNIFE to school for her birthday.

The funny thing tho, is that if you look at the statistics- schools are significantly safer over the past several years than they ever have been in the class. School violence is going down, not up- the only difference was that the media realized they could make money by creating a ruckus about shootings. And then parents DEMAND ACTION TO PROTECT OUR KIDS!!!!11 (see also: OH GOD THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!! for anybody that watches South Park), and of course lawmakers act.

I'm all for keeping schools safe. However, common sense must be applied. Declaring a school a 'weapon free zone' is absurd, becuase anything can be a weapon. If you really wanted to stab someone you could borrow some scissors from the art closet. So these laws just punish non-criminal kids who accidentally wind up in the law's crosshairs.


Or let's take all the anti sexual predator laws. Again, noblest of intent, and I'm all for getting rid of pedophiles. But what always happens is the prosecutors interpret the law literally, and you have situations where a 16 year old kid goes to jail and will be branded a 'sexual offender' for the rest of his life because he fooled around or exchanged nudie pics with his 15 year old girlfriend. There are literally hundreds of these cases. Now I have ZERO sympathy for child predators or pedophiles, anybody that ACTUALLY abuses kids should be locked up for a good long time. But I have a serious problem with taking some innocent kid and telling him he's now a sexual offender for the rest of his life just because he fooled around with a girl 1 year younger than him.



In any case, back to the point-
There are many things we can do to keep kids safe. Turning our society into a police state / nanny state / surveillance society may prevent some child-injuring incidents, but at the cost of the very principles we claim to value as American. So I believe that we as a society have to think about what we're doing and sometimes say "sure this thing will cause fewer kids to get hurt, but it's still a bad idea and we shouldn't do it".

As for this hamwatch- I think it's a great idea, as long as the hams involved are focused on finding the real criminals (anybody trying to abduct a kid) and aren't wasting their time chasing harmless teenagers.
 
RE: Amateur Radio Operators to Help Keep Halloween Safe:  
by KQ9J on October 31, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
KB1QXR -

Let me start by saying that for the most part, I totally agree with you. I think I have valid credentials to enter into this debate: I have been a Law Enforcement officer for 22 years; I have children - two of which are still in school; and I have in the past done Halloween Patrol for amateur radio.

My Libertarian mindset has gotten me into many debates with fellow officers over the years. I believe that overzealous enforcement, ridiculous policies and laws in the name of "safety" diminish our freedom and do more harm than good. I want all our kids to be safe - but not at the expense of their freedom! I truly feel that we are raising a generation of kids who have (wrongly) been taught it's OK to have the government watching and controlling every aspect of their lives and that to me is sad.

Yes, the overreaction to incidents like Columbine and to high-profile abduction and sexual predator cases is hurting more than helping in the long run. The argument that "well, if it saves only one child" doesn't set well with me. It is the easy way out and an avenue for Police officials and School administrators to feel good about themselves and soothe their more panicky constituents, saving themselves from the media who love nothing more than to whip up a frenzy in the name of a good story.

All that being said, an additional benevolent presence on the streets at a time when large numbers of children, many unaccompanied, are out - is not going to be a bad thing if properly applied. If the ham witnesses someone driving poorly (drunk or too fast) or smashing the windows out of a home - report it, but not the kid running down the street with a roll of toilet paper or smoking a cigarette. Sure, some Ham Halloween Patrol operators could be overzealous, but these operations are publicized and perhaps the knowledge that these extra eyes are out there may lead someone bent on abducting a child or doing a serious crime to move on to the next town.

It is wrong to assume that these Hams are buffoons and wannabe cops. There are exceptions no doubt, but most are just guys wanting to help - and they should not be put down for it.
 
The Term "Buffoon" is more memorable  
by WA4D on October 31, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
As the initiator of this conversation that beget some surprisingly reasoned responses, I feel compelled to return it to the name calling level it deserves.

I'll stick to ridicule and derision of these hams and their activity. I find their alliance with law enforcement to be obsequious and their rationale to be intellectually dishonest.

This is ham radio. A hobby began by "tinkerers" and men that were charmed by the wonder of RF. It has moved far from that innocent beginning.
 
RE: The Term "Buffoon" is more memorable  
by WA1RNE on October 31, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
"This is ham radio. A hobby began by "tinkerers" and men that were charmed by the wonder of RF. It has moved far from that innocent beginning."


>>> This is the Internet, which originally began with a bunch of college kids exchanging data between universities for research purposes.

Today it allows you to play with your bank accounts over wireless, twisted copper cable and fiber optic lines. It also enables you to state your opinions in the public arena.

I has moved far from its innocent beginning - and of course you are still entitled to your opinion.


...WA1RNE
 
RE: Watch out Kids. Ham Buffoons are watching!:  
by KB9VSQ on October 31, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
WA4D
A correction in your comments, the news story is out of Wisconsin Rapids WI, the township of Grand Rapids is on the outskirts of Wisconsin Rapids.
Grand Rapids MI is not mentioned.
 
RE: Amateur Radio Operators to Help Keep Halloween Safe:  
by KB1QXR on October 31, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
KQ9J-
An excellent reply, I agree with just about everything you said. The problem is, nobody wants to say "this law will save one child at the expense of our freedom, maybe that one child is a good trade for having a society that stays free".

Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one. -Thomas Jefferson

(ben franklin also said a very similar quote...)

But it's a tough sell to a parents' committee.

As for the hamwatch, the devil really is in the details. And I agree that if they are instructed to ignore the kids with toilet paper and focus on actual problems, it would be a very positive thing. I'd participate in such a thing if it existed here.


WA4D- I truly apologize for helping derail your happy name calling thread. I must also apologize for giving your latest comment a serious response-
Ham radio may have been started by tinkerers and those who are fascinated with RF, but that doesn't mean it has no practical applications. In a disaster, when ARES gets called up, should they refuse to deploy saying "NO! We're just tinkerers who love RF! We refuse to put our knowledge to work to help solve real problems!"? I think not.
I will agree that I think at least some of the ham emcomm things are just hams wanting to feel useful. And I would have a problem with this hamwatch if it's used as a 'you hams patrol the streets so we cops don't have to' or 'you hams patrol the streets and call in all the mischevous kids'. But I don't see how an alliance between law enforcement and ham radio is intellectually dishonest.
 
RE: Amateur Radio Operators to Help Keep Halloween Safe:  
by WA4D on October 31, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Apology accepted. :).

Though your remarks didn't diminish my enjoyment of ripping the facade off the farce of Ham "informants".

Cops are agents of the state. You guys have little to contribute to the hobby beyond your deluded "we're the good guys" refrain. Keep your tin badge out of the hobby.
 
Amateur Radio Operators to Help Keep Halloween Safe:  
by KB9MNM on November 1, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I work in law enforcement, and have been on a 'Community Radio Watch' program too. Though I see both sides 1) keeping the public safe and 2)hams patrolling the streets, I am more inclined to say keep the hams off the streets in this particular situation.

Working as a 911 dispatcher for 14+ years, not all hams know how messed up things can get if they get "too involved" in a situation. Best use your cell phone and call 911 and let the professionals handle it. Though the officers will be responding to "priority" calls, criminal damage to property calls (such as "t.p-ing, pumpkin smashing, etc)are the lowest of priority and can wait usually until the morning. The citizens are usually the best ones to call in any reports they feel may need immediate attention of the local police. Trust me, there will be plenty of calls if a situation is "out of control".

I would suggest a ham to do a "ride along" in dispatch on a holiday. Usually the best shift would be 3pm-11pm, just to get an idea of how busy things can get in an instant. It will make you think. Anyway that's my 2 cents worth as I have 3 more hours before I go home for the "night". It's been another crazy Halloween.
 
911 Ham Operator should be Disciplined  
by WA4D on November 1, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
KB9MNM--- Comments noted.

Ham radio as a culture and as promoted by the ARRL has this need to feel relevant. And at one time when communications systems were crude and there was not a civil cadre of communications support and infrastructure it was a valid (vital?) link on occasion.

But the larger issues is this rush into the hobby by government workers. Especially Law enforcement types like yourself.

You say you had 3 more hours to go on your shift while responding to this thread. What is the policy for Web surfing in your dispatch center? If you are allowed to surf, do you watch TV? Read books? Play checkers? Do knitting? Do E Learning? What's going on there?
 
RE: 911 Ham Operator should be Disciplined  
by W1XZ on November 3, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Hopefully this group will reconvene for Thanksgiving to make sure the turkeys don't escape slaughter (remember you can't have slaughter without laughter), and Christmas so there aren't any phony santas at the malls.
What a joke.
 
RE: 911 Ham Operator should be Disciplined  
by KI4SDY on November 3, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I can't think of anything scarier than ugly mean old hams in cars driving around the neighborhood.
 
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