The Fullerton Radio Club was given a tour of Fullerton Police Station by its Chief, Bob Dunn. The tour began in front of a large plaque where it was noticed that the top name, Mayor Hans Kohlenberger (1939-44), had the same last name as one of our members, Roger Kohlenberger.
Hans Kohlenberger was Roger’s grandfather’s brother. (The name Kohlenberger has been on the map of Fullerton businesses since the 30s).
The smaller plaque on the left indicates that the funds for this building were from the Works Progress Administration. The date on both is 1940, which is when the Brea Dam (which is entirely within the city limits of Fullerton) was built. Until 1962, this building was both city hall and the police station.
The architecture of this facility includes an extensive basement and this outdoor part of the basement. It is the lowest spot in the city and often floods in a rainstorm. The basement under the building does, of course, serve a purpose, as we will discuss later in this article.
Our principal interest was the Drone Operation that is new to the department. Josh Manes and Louis Ramirez are two of the three certified drone operators. On the table is one of the two small ones. The big one is shown here…
Cost about $40,000, which the Department acquired through grant funds. The drone’s aerial perspective can be seen not just by the drone operators but by right-seat officers in units on the way to a scene. Present use is above crowds where police are already on the scene. But someday, the goal is to launch the drone to the address being given to the 911 Call Center while the caller is still on the phone. While the unit is on its way, the right-seat officer has a view of the situation before they arrive.
According to Chief Dunn, Drones as First Responders awaits funding to the tune of several hundred thousand dollars. That’s because of restrictions imposed by the FAA, which require a direct line of sight at every moment, which requires handing off that control to people already in position throughout the city. It’s a manpower problem, not hardware. (The FAA may give up that direct line-of-sight requirement when autonomous drones are trusted by them.) But imagine that eyes on the situation can be measured in seconds rather than minutes. For more information on drone use in the police force, there is an excellent article that can be found using Google with the words: “11 Ways Police Departments Are Using Drones“.
This is accurate in a sense. However, the officers would have to use their cell phones to access the data. That would be dangerous while driving. What it does do, though, is provide real-time updates to officers on their way to the scene via the licensed operators.
The picture of the 911 Control Center is the closest thing to what the members of Fullerton Radio Club do. Actually, what we do is more like what police departments did before they had computers (as in the picture on the left)
This is what it used to look like, where the only technology was a telephone and a radio transmitter. The Call Center now involves multiple computer screens that show not only where the caller is calling from but also where all the units are at that moment. We learned that each unit has two radios. One radio is like a party line in that all units can hear or talk at the same time. The other radio is more secure and more like a cellphone in that an operator (in this room) makes the connection. The party line (by tradition) can be overheard by anyone with a public service band scanner. It is something of a hobby for some people to monitor what is going on in the city that involves police units. It should be obvious that no “transmitter” of that frequency is sold to the public.
Chief Dunn knew of our interest in radio and spent a long time telling us about the controlled interconnecting of networks of communication that is spread over the entire county, which includes fire stations and Highway Patrol as well as sheriffs (county police).
Several of us in the Radio Club are also interested in guns. So the last part of our tour was quite memorable: the target range in the basement. Rangemaster David Benedict hosted it.
The above picture shows David and Chief Dunn describing how wire tasers need both wires to hit the leg and stomach; it’s tricky. The other non-lethal weapons (on the table) are more natural in their use.
In another highlight of the tour, we got to meet Chief Dunn’s secretary, Carol Whitaker, and Kristy Wells, who is a liaison officer.
Kristy works with Nubbin, a docile and friendly K9 we got to play with. Nubbin normally does not go out on city patrols but stays around the station with the specialized role of lowering the anxiety of people who are brought to the police station. Nubbin can be brought to the scenes to help victims work through their interviews with our officers and process the trauma they have experienced. Tours of the police station are quite common with school-age kids, and Nubbin is quite popular with them. If you have a group who would like a tour, contact Kristy at <kristy.wells@fullertonPD.org>
Nubbin can be brought to the scenes to help victims work through their interviews with our officers and process the trauma they have experienced.