Police Radio
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There's a lot of Police Radio history in Dade County.

I would really like to have more information about Police Radio in Dade County.  I've heard that in the early years, WQAM broadcasted one-way radio calls to officers.   Later, 39 MHz radios were used to communicate back to the police station.  

Which years was this method used?   What was in use in the 1950s, 60s?

Up until maybe the 1970's, there were 4 VHF channels.  I remember Motorola mobiles, Comco handhelds, then Motorola.  I think the base stations were GE Mastr Pros, then Mastr 2, then Motorola.   In the late 1990's, the County installed an GE/Ericson EDACS 800 MHz Trunking system.   For a short time before that, some areas were converted to conventional Motorola 800 MHz radios as an interim measure. 

I heard that Coral Gables had one of the nation's first repeater systems.   That way, all officers could hear each other.  Anyone have pictures?   History?

Here's some great information from Mark A. Cobbeldick [KB4CVN]

Hi Ray,
Here is what I remember of the topic:

Dade County Public Safety Department
As I recall, at first they had four(4) channels:

- North
- South
- Southwest
- Channel-D (Records & Car-to-Car)

From there, they expanded adding in: Airport, MidSouth, MidWest, Municipal, North East, Headquarters and others before migrating to 800 MHz. They also had a bunch of simplex tactical channels, some of which encrypted. Their Motorola MX radios were a custom model, built to accommodate the close channel spacing they were using.

Coral Gables Police Department
Originally they just had one channel: 158.790 MHz simplex. CALLSIGN: KIC-792. They used Comco 802 portables and Comco (tube-type) 1-channel remote mount mobiles. In the latter part of the 1970's, they switched over to 1 and 4-channel RCA SuperCarfone mobiles.

In the late 1970's they added a repeater using an input frequency of 156.090 MHz. (Dade County was using repeaters with 154/155 outputs and 158/159 inputs at the time.) In a later move, CGPD changed their repeater pairing and swapped the input/output frequencies: 156.090 out/158.790 in, which allowed them to be able to use the County's mutual aid repeater!

Coral Gables also had a "super secret" uhf repeater on the air for detective use: KDL-472. It used 470.8625 with an input up 3 MHz. In the days prior to Police Call books and Tom Kneitel's frequency sheets, to find this channel I had to go downtown and research the FCC's microfiche records. Not something most people would do.

The FCC Engineer in Charge (EIC) at the time was Jack May, who was real "funny" about just who viewed the database. The first time I went down there to look-up info was back in the early 1970's. He did not what to let me see anything at the time. But when I complained about this being a public record, he relented. But his secretary also viewed anything I took notes on and got my name/address information to inform the licensee that I was researching their license data. The first trip was to look at Florida
Highway Patrol (FHP) data.

ROBERT / JASON: Any historical data you can add to this?

Thanks Mark, I added this to the web page.

I think I remember Jack May's secretary. Had to face them all when I went to take the test for my 3rd phone. I remember one I called bee-hive head.  I also visited the microfiche a few times. Ah, the old days.

I saw Jack May again a couple years ago at a FARC meeting. It was nice to shake the hand of the guy who signed my first license.  He has since passed on... his obit from the Dade Radio Club where he was a member also:

Jack May W4AZO - Silent Key
Sent: Thursday, May 15, 2003 12:40 PM Subject: W4AZO Silent Key Jack May W4AZO became a silent key this week. Visitation 4-6 PM Rader United Methodist Church, NE 2nd Ave and 87 St, Services follow at 6:00 PM. MONDAY, May 19th. Jack was very active in Dade Radio Club and the Flamingo Net from his early novice license until he became FCC Engineer-in-Charge. Jack and his XYL Betty met in high school and were active members of the Miami Edison "Over The Hill Gang", Betty passed away several years ago and now they are together again.

From: "Robert Wyman"    added 1/15/04


The very first Dade County system used good ole 37.12 and 37.18 as the Dade County Sheriff's "Road Patrol" channel (north and south) and 33.72 as the Fire Brigade channel....and the Fire Brigade was a part of the "Public Safety Department" also managed by the County Sheriff under the authority of the County Administrator. These channels were in tube-type mobile radios. Remember the TV show "Highway Patrol" with Broderick Crawford? That's the radio.

37.12 became the Public Works Dept. survey crew channel and 37.18 became the Office of Civil Defense "Plectron" channel. 33.72 was retired from service but maintained as an active license for decades. Rumor has it that it was used for simplex tactical and "private" comms by the Fire Department staff members in charge of special operations...I can't recall the staff guy's name right now, but he's been there forever and he's been at the forefront of high tech gear. I think he just retired too. His unit evolved into today's T-Comm unit (Tactical Communications Group).

The first VHF radios had four channels for the Sheriff...now called the Dade County Public Safety Department but still run by Sheriff E. Wilson Purdy...labeled "A" thru "D." As a slight variation to what Mark said, the new channels were north, central, south and records...A, B, C, and D. The name "Channel D" stuck because such channels were not yet referred to as "records." Agencies around the country had different names, including "Wants and Warrants" or "Offender Information" or even "Auxiliary" or "Courthouse" or similar titles. "Car to Car" may have been used, but I think that term came along later too. The patrol units usually had to go thru the dispatcher for everything, and in those days the car-to-car function was accomplished on the dispatch channels since traffic was light. No need for a separate frequency. I was once told that the last version of LOW BAND radios actually started the A thru D channel plan, but I never found any more than 3 low band freqs ever licensed to Dade County. That point remains a slight mystery.

But, there's no doubt that VHF started with 4 channels. As I recall, the next round of upgrades brought in the Hospital Net, Intercity, and Command (later called Headquarters). Only Command was added to the patrol channel plan. Intercity and Hospital Net were for the dispatchers only...it was a decade or more before they appeared in mobile radios during the very last upgrade prior to 800 MHz.

The next upgrade included the first ComCo handheld bricks with North, Central, Command/West, South, and "Records and Information"...Channel "D." The system operated for years like that. There may have been more channels in the handhelds...maybe Gables or something...not sure. Wade, any recollection?

Upgrade time again: South switched frequencies, Command became HQ on its own channel, Airport was added, North became NW and a new channel for Northeast Municipal came online to group all the muni's up there with their own dispatcher. A dedicated repeater Tactical channel was also added.

Fast forward a few more years.

Southwest was added, West and TAC, as I recall, had some kind of swap of freqs or something, and some simplex TAC channels were added for events, SRT, OCB, etc.

The last upgrade, as I recall, had Northside (evolved from NW), NE Municipal, Central, Airport, West, Southwest, South, HQ, TAC, Records, Intercity, Hospital Net, a whole bank of simplex TAC channels, and talkaround ("direct") on the dispatch freqs.

NE Muni went to 800 conventional for a couple of years, followed I think by Northside.

The trunked system then came online, and the NE/NW freqs were converted to the TRS. Then each district was slowly converted from VHF to 800 trunked, followed by some name changes. Danny: please help me with this...did Northside=Miami Lakes or something different? South=Cutler Ridge. Southwest=Kendall. Airport stayed the same name. West=Doral I think. Hammocks was new...I think Hammocks started on VHF as being dispatched by South...Danny, help please!

And the rest of the trunked system is well documented elsewhere.

Wade, Danny, Mark...any corrections are welcomed. This is just from my memory, so it's unofficial and unconfirmed through independent research.

I too recall the days of FCC microfiche freq searches and the Nth-degree scrutiny we were under. Unbelievable. But, all that pressure and feeling of being watched made any significant data findings even MORE significant! It felt like we walked out of there with something special at least, or almost top secret at best! It was "on a need to know basis," and we found a way to "need to know!"

I recall Jack as well from that office. Nice, knowledgeable, but also stern, authoritative, and business-like. I don't recall any small talk or joking about the topics of freqs of communication systems. This was serious stuff! I also recall the secretarial staff being just as stern. It was like having to sit in the Principal's office in elementary school.

Ray...hope this helps.


And now more from Robert including Fire:

Ray: Carl at OEM will have more info on what Fire did when they squirreled away the 33.72 freq, and later the VHF Fire freqs which I didn't mention in the last message.

Basically, the Dade County Sheriff's Office became the Dade County Public Safety Department, overseeing both PD and FD functions. After a few years, the Fire function was upgraded to the Dade County Fire Department and run by a Fire Chief. I don't know if the Fire Chief still reported to the Sheriff or was already reporting to the County Manager. I think it was the latter of the two. The Fire Department also moved to 2 VHF hi channels for North and South. I'll have to look them up...I recalled them last night but forgot them this evening. The channels were in the 153/154 range, and the FD maintained the licenses for many years after they had already moved dispatch to UHF.

Some time later, the Dade County Fire Department became the Dade County Fire and Rescue Department, and they moved to 2 UHF channels: 453.7 for North and 453.8 for South. A Fire Command channel was added shortly thereafter on 453.6.

About a decade or more later, when the County acquired a block of 470-474 MHz Local Government channels, 453.85 was transferred from being a Local Government channel used by the Solid Waste Collection Division of the Dade County Public Works Department to being the Fire Dept.'s West channel. Later still, the Fire Dept. acquired most of the 453 MHz channels originally used by Miami PD/FD...when Miami moved to their 800 system (the first operational Motorola 800 MHz public safety trunked system in the U.S.). These have been used for a variety of tactical projects over the years, including some "discrete" PD uses. They have also been considered for use as a UHF trunked system.

Anyway, the more official version (and more accurate, I'm sure) is best obtained from Carl and John McCue (hope I spelled that right after all these years...I was a pain in John's &^%##*&@! when I first started asking him frequency questions while I was in high school!

Let's see, as far as PD is concerned, they also commandeered 151.1 as I recall. It was slated to be a new and separate channel for the Dade County Department of Traffic and Transportation (DOTT) when all Dade local government (all radio users and departments that were not PD, FD or School Board) were split between LG1 (453.525) and LG2 (453.65). Somewhere along the line, after the Transit Agency (as it was called at the time) grew too big for LG2 and moved to a 471 MHz block, the County obtained several more 470 and 471 channels and moved all the LG1 and LG2 traffic up there. The 151.1 channel became a PD tone pager channel if I'm remembering correctly.

OK, that's enough for this installment. Corrections will be appreciated.


Here's a link about Police Radio in Detroit.   I would like to get this type of information about our area. 

Here's a control head for a Motorola Radio from 1954.   This would have been under the dash and connected to a large tube type radio in the trunk of the car. 

Mvc-772f.jpg (62594 bytes)

And to be fair, here's a control head from the same era made by General Electric.

Mvc-776f.jpg (70498 bytes)


From Mike Rohrbacher, KE4VNN:  "Here are some of the pictures from Comnet-Ericsson's radio history museum. Of course, this museum features only GE/Ericsson products. Feel free to forward this to anyone you want to. Recognize anything here?"

P0001067.jpg (209937 bytes)


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    South Florida FM Association, 2003   

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