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 theautomobile represented a significant shift in police practices during theyears of the Depression. Radio became a technological solution to a num-ber of problems facing police, many of which were tied to the increasinguse of the automobile. The automobile enabled increasingly fast mobility...
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 crimedocudrama drew on existing cultural forms but was nonetheless unique toradio. While vigilante-styled dramas had clear precedents in pulp fiction,the origin of those programs that claimed to present true stories of policingis less obvious and ultimately more complicated. Created in cooperation...
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 empha-sized one of the key concerns in the creation of radio dramas: how to rep-resent events in the world through sound alone. While, as discussed inchapter 1, Lord clearly overstated his adherence to facts in an eﬀort topublicize his programs, he nonetheless identified a problem many in radio...
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 desirefor criminality. The public devoured newspapers with famous gangstersand desperados on their covers or paid hard-earned money for a glimpseinto the glamorous world of the screen gangster. Citizens seemed far more...
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 duringthe 1930s, was justifiably proud of the accomplishments of his force, theMichigan State Police. In this short description of a “spectacular example”of the power of police radio is condensed many of the issues key in theadaptation of two-way radio to police work. Few crimes better symbolized...
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 asan entertainment formula that was largely complicit in naturalizing a pro-gressive definition of policing as a profession producing, and thus possess-ing, its own body of expert knowledge about criminality, policing, and theproper role of citizens. This was achieved both through the narrative con-...
Conclusion: Hearing the Echoes
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In this remarkable statement, Colonel H. Norman Schwarzkopf, head ofNew Jersey State Militia and host of Gang Busters, made clear the lofty ex -pectation that radio might somehow revolutionize the relationship betweenpolice and citizens.1 His faith in the ability of radio to transform this rela-tionship seems at once hopelessly naïve and eerily prescient. In his hope...
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Why did I write a book about radio crime dramas? This is still somethingof a mystery. Perhaps the answer may be found in my childhood experi-ences. When I was young, my Nana, who took pleasure in occasionallyfinding ways to scare my brother and me, would recite the opening linesof The Shadow as she stuck her bottom dentures out past her lower lip...
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About the Author
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Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2010