Graham PD apprehends pirate radio on police channel

Graham PD apprehends pirate radio on police channel

Graham police officers tracked down a radio that had been transmitting sounds of a barking dog named ‘L.T.’ over Young County law enforcement dispatch channels for months, interfering with first responders in the field and putting officers in potentially dangerous situations, Sheriff Travis Babcock said.

Sheriff Babcock recently announced a $1,000 reward for information about the person or people who were illegally transmitting the unauthorized radio chatter on a frequency that the first responders use to communicate with each other and with the emergency dispatcher.

The rogue transmissions –involving the dog and a man, woman and children yelling at each other and at “L.T.” to stop barking – were a daily occurrence familiar to law officers countywide. It got so bad that deputies sometimes had to call each other on cell phones to communicate, and Sheriff Babcock contacted the Federal Communications Commission for help.

“It’s started to interfere with the radio traffic, when we have deputies and officers out trying to communicate with dispatch,” he said. “Not only being a nuisance it’s a very bad safety situation and that’s what I’m concerned about more than anything.”

The Federal Communications Commission gave the sheriff a statement to broadcast, warning the radio pirate to cease operating on the emergency channel but nothing worked until two Graham police officer David Lipsey and Sgt. Tommie Shawver heard the chatter while patrolling on the morning of July 8.

“Officer Lipsey could hear that the location of the unauthorized radio traffic and believed that they were having their roof replaced,” Graham Police Department said in a statement. “Both officers located a house in the 1500 block of Dresser where they observed that the hammering sounds matched the radio traffic.”

Officer Lipsey knocked on the door and the homeowners “acknowledged that they had children and a dog named L.T., and a handheld radio, the police statement said.

Officer Lipsey got consent to search the house and found the voice-activated radio sitting on a windowsill in a charger – and it was transmitting, the statement said.

“Once they verified that the portable radio was transmitting on the Young County Sheriff ’s frequency they seized the portable radio,” the statement said.

The radio and the case have been turned over to Young County Sheriff ’s Office.

It was not immediately clear if the county would file charges against the owners of the radio. Sheriff Babcock said he had considered filing misdemeanor charges of interference with public duty. The perpetrator also could face federal charges for interfering with emergency communications, he said.