Calling All Cars
Radio Dragnets and the Technology of Policing
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: University of Minnesota Press
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Title Page, Copyright
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Introduction: Heeding the Call
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As historians of policing generally agree, radio in combination with the automobile represented a significant shift in police practices during the years of the Depression. Radio became a technological solution to a number of problems facing police, many of which were tied to the increasing use of the automobile. ...
1. Policing Perception: Public Image Management and the Creation of the Radio Crime Docudrama
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Like the soap opera and variety program, among others, the radio crime docudrama drew on existing cultural forms but was nonetheless unique to radio. While vigilante-styled dramas had clear precedents in pulp fiction, the origin of those programs that claimed to present true stories of policing is less obvious and ultimately more complicated. ...
2. The Sound of Intimate Authority: Professionalism and the Reformation of Police Officers
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In publicity for his upcoming G-Men program, Phillips H. Lord emphasized one of the key concerns in the creation of radio dramas: how to represent events in the world through sound alone. While, as discussed in chapter 1, Lord clearly overstated his adherence to facts in an effort to publicize his programs, ...
3. Gang Busting: Criminals and Citizens in a Professional World
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Reformers found public attitudes toward criminals particularly troubling. They marveled at public interest, sympathy, admiration, and seeming desire for criminality. The public devoured newspapers with famous gangsters and desperados on their covers or paid hard-earned money for a glimpse into the glamorous world of the screen gangster. ...
4. The Dragnet Effect: Space, Time, and Police Presence
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Donald S. Leonard, a key figure in supporting radio in police work during the 1930s, was justifiably proud of the accomplishments of his force, the Michigan State Police. In this short description of a “spectacular example” of the power of police radio is condensed many of the issues key in the adaptation of two-way radio to police work. ...
5. The Shadow of Doubt and the Menace of Surveillance
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As argued up to this point, the radio crime docudrama was developed as an entertainment formula that was largely complicit in naturalizing a progressive definition of policing as a profession producing, and thus possessing, its own body of expert knowledge about criminality, policing, and the proper role of citizens. ...
Conclusion: Hearing the Echoes
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In this remarkable statement, Colonel H. Norman Schwarzkopf, head of New Jersey State Militia and host of Gang Busters, made clear the lofty expectation that radio might somehow revolutionize the relationship between police and citizens.1 His faith in the ability of radio to transform this relationship seems at once hopelessly naïve and eerily prescient. ...
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Why did I write a book about radio crime dramas? This is still something of a mystery. Perhaps the answer may be found in my childhood experiences. When I was young, my Nana, who took pleasure in occasionally finding ways to scare my brother and me, ...
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About the Author
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Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2010