July 17 – At the age of 10, Charles Grant overhears police radio conversations on his father’s scanner about activity at an intersection with his parents’ home in Toledo.
This episode – of the exact nature he no longer remembers – made Mr. Grant want to know what was going on in the neighborhood and listen to this scanner from time to time.
The 31-year-old Jeep assembly line worker now has an average of between 300 and 400 people a day, listening to broadcasts of police scanners and sheriffs, which he published in the Broadcastify app from early 2019, first from his former apartment in West Toledo and most recently from a Point Point house he rents.
Mr. Grant, a native of Toledo who grew up in the northern part of the city, does it as a hobby.
“I’d like people to hear what’s going on in their community,” Mr. Grant said. “If you see a police officer passing with lights and sirens on, you should be able to pick up your scanner or, if you don’t have access to it, your cell phone and see what’s going on.”
“You shouldn’t be in the dark for anything,” he said. “You have to know what’s going on around you. I don’t want to move to a new neighborhood [for example]and not to know that the man who lives next door to me has just been attacked by the police. “
In September 2019, he also set up a private group for police scanning events in Toledo on Facebook so that his listeners could discuss the shows. Currently, the membership in the group is about 20,400; they collectively post 30 to 40 comments a day on the group’s Facebook page, he said.
“He’s rocking, man,” Brian Mata, a 30-year-old Oregon auto parts dealer, told Mr. Grant. “He definitely knows his stuff when it comes to scanners and radios. I enjoy his show every day.”
Mr. Grant’s scholarships increased significantly after the death of George Floyd while he was in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020, on Remembrance Day.
It reached a record 7,067 listeners at one point in early August 11, 2020, after police responded to various shootings and incidents of violence following that in which, according to a police report, a man believed to be in his mid-20s years ago, he was shot by another man on a basketball court at Winterfield Park on Hill Avenue.
This was after a video from a mobile phone was posted on Facebook and went viral. He recorded the sound of a series of shots and then the victim said he had been shot and asked someone to take him to the hospital; it also briefly shows a man running with what appears to be an AK-47 assault rifle.
“Everyone should be able to know” immediately about such incidents, Mr Grant said, adding that help in this regard makes him “feel good about it”.
“People keep texting me and saying, ‘Hey, thank you for doing what you’re doing. We really appreciate the opportunity to listen to police scanners. ” This is cool. I like that, “he said.
The entire scan and upload operation costs Mr. Grant only $ 70 to get started. The money was paid for two software-defined radios, which he said he was lucky enough to buy “cheaply” online.
He then received the necessary software for free from the GitHub website and has since used it to upload the live show to Broadcastify. Creating a private group on Facebook and creating a page also costs him nothing.
The whole operation – which takes up a little more than the desk in the living room – is performed automatically, does not require his physical presence at home and takes very little time or effort on his part, rarely requiring him to restart his reassigned computer game.
Mr Grant usually restarts the computer remotely from his smartphone, which has a remote keyboard application, he said. In April, he moved his equipment to a Point Point house that he and his girlfriend Stephanie Fabos share.
“Stephanie sometimes grumbles that the equipment takes up space,” he joked. “But I tell her it precedes her.”
From there, it simultaneously broadcasts from 14 northwestern Ohio – mostly from Lucas County – police and sheriff’s radio channels and a live Toledo EMS channel. The delay is about two minutes – the time to upload the shows, he said.
“That keeps us informed,” Mr Mata said. “It gives us information about what’s going on and protects us.”