One of the services we provide here at the Lewisville Texan Journal a live public feed of police and fire department radio. There had been an online feed of the Lewisville Fire Department already, but up to the point we rolled this out, nothing for Lewisville Police. We wanted to make not only a live feed available, but recordings of traffic as well so that we could later piece together news if we didn't happen to be listening at the time it happened.
The stream that you can listen to here may contain radio traffic of a sensitive nature. All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. This service is provided as-is, as available, and may be discontinued at any time for any reason. NO WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND ARE EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION, THE LEGALITY OF ANY DISCLOSURE OF INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THESE RECORDINGS. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK.
Click the play button below to listen to the feed:
Archive instructions: Select a date from the column on the right, and click it. Dates are in the format DD-MM-YYYY. (Which is backasswards from normal American date formatting, but that's how the software works, and we can't change that.) Select an individual file to play, or scroll all the way down to the bottom, and select one of the hourly playlists to play all of the radio traffic from that hour. There are also playlists for the entire day, and just police traffic or just fire department traffic.
F.A.Q.: Q: I don't see the play button. What's wrong? A: You may need to install Flash on your computer. or cell phone. If you have an Android phone, you can download Flash here from your phone and install it.
Q: Is the audio live? A: It is live audio, but on a short delay.
Q: Is this legal? A: Yes, it's legal to listen. You cannot use the information you hear in the commission of a crime, or for personal gain. There is nothing here that you couldn't listen to by purchasing your own scanner.
Q: Is this all radio traffic? A: It's *most* radio traffic. This feed has a priority set for police traffic, since there is already a dedicated fire department feed out there. But if fire department traffic is active, it may miss the beginning of a police department transmission. We also may block or delay transmissions on some channels in order to protect sensitive personal data that is not newsworthy, or might compromise police operations. Lewisville police know how to contact us if they need us to switch off or delay transmissions.
The other thing to note is that police get some information shipped to them on their computers in their cars. You may hear the dispatchers reference that. In these cases, you won't necessarily understand what is going on. In other cases, when police need to transmit something securely, they may use their department cell phones.
Q: What should I do if I hear something newsworthy? A: We would love to hear about it. We don't always listen, so we miss a lot. Part of the reason for us posting this is so that we can have some extra eyes and ears to tell us about developing situations in Lewisville. Be sure to tell us the approximate time that you heard the transmission. If you are near the action, we would love to get a picture. How to submit story tips.
Please do not endanger yourself or others, or interfere with first responders to do this. Keep a distance, and be safe.
Q: Do you have archives beyond the most recent 8 days? A: Yes we do, going back to July, 2012. We may some day make those available to the public, but we have some things to do in order to be responsible about it and provide something that is easy to use. See "Planned Improvments" below. If you would like to be a beta tester for us, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: How do I know what time that a given transmission in the archives took place? A: The files are all marked in the filename with the Hour and minute of the day. Times are in 24 hour time or military time. For instance if the file begins with 21-09, then the transmission was at 9:09 p.m. We don't have them marked to the second, but the files are all sequential, so the third number in the sequence is an absolute sequence. Lower numbers occur before higher numbers.
Q: How do I listen to a playlist? A: The playlists are .m3u files, which most MP3 players will recognize. Just click the link, and if you are prompted to save the file, click OK. Then click the file to open it Windows Media Player can play them. iTunes and Winamp should also be able to play the playlist. The playlist is just a specially formatted file that links to the files on our webserver. You're not actually downloading all of the sound files at once. They are streamed and played sequentially from our webserver. Note that the files will expire from our server after 7 full days. After that time, your playlist will not work.
Q: Why do you only have 8 days worth of archives available? A: It's to prevent abuse of the system, and provide some level of security over personal data that is sometimes mentioned in radio transmissions. Plus, most of the time, anything over 8 days old is not going to be very newsworthy. By limiting it to the current day, plus the 7 days prior, we keep it simple to find what you're looking for.
Q: How often are archives updated? A: Currently, each individual radio transmission becomes available right as it finishes. Hourly, we create the playlists, and just after midnight, we roll off the expired date.
Q: Why do the archive directories display file dates on them that are later than the date they were recorded? A: It's a bit of goofiness with the way our scripts create the playlists and operate on those directories. It's something we want to replace with a better interface, but it was quick and dirty to just let the webserver do it this way.
Q: Are the files copyrighted? A: The sound files are public domain. The playlists are copyrighted by The Lewisville Texan Journal. However, you are welcome to use them or share them as long as you attribute the source by linking to this page. We would appreciate your link anytime you use one of the files.
Q: How are the hourly playlists formatted? A: The hourly playlists are formatted like playlist_XX.m3u. The XX corresponds to the hour, in military time. So something that happened from 5 p.m. to 5:59 p.m. would be in playlist_17.m3u.
Q: Can you use some other means of streaming the radio traffic, like Broadcastify? A: At this time, no. It's a possibility for the future, but we currently have this optimized for our own use in news-gathering, with public streaming as a secondary usage. We will look at this again next time we upgrade.
Q: Can you make me a copy of some radio traffic on a CD? A: For $25, we will put as much traffic as will fit on a CD, and mail that to you. Email email@example.com and explain what you need, and we'll figure out how to get it to you. Keep in mind that if you get it quickly enough, you could download them yourself, and you may be able to get the same recordings via an open-records request with the City of Lewisville.
Q: What is your equipment/software setup? A: We use a Uniden Trunktracker III radio, connected to a wall-mounted antenna right next to an exterior window here at the Lewisville Texan Journal office. We use FreeScan to control the scanner and record the traffic, and Broadwave Audio Streamer to serve the stream. Home-rolled software archives the recordings and builds playlists each hour. All of this setup will have to change when the Lewisville public safety radio switches to digital in 2015.
Planned improvements: - Find a way to provide older archives for registered users - Better user interface - Ability to listen to just fire, or just police in a live or near-live feed. - Features to prevent abuse - Upgrade to support the upcoming digital standards radio, which could be implemented by Lewisville public safety as soon as Summer of 2015. (This will cost us a little chunk of change. If you want to help sponsor it, contact firstname.lastname@example.org, and we always welcome you to put something in the tip jar.)
Common "10" Codes: Most police services use some form or variation "ten" codes over the radio as a type of shorthand. They're falling out of favor, but some are still used. The Police Department tends to use them, and the Fire Department usually does not.
Here are some of the most common ones: 10-4: Okay - affirmative - understood. 10-7: Out of service 10-8: In service 10-12: Visitor / Subject present. (Subject within earshot of radio) 10-20: Location 10-99: Subject is wanted
You can find numerous canonical lists of them on the internet, but they do vary. If you know of some other ones used locally, let us know.
Fire Department Unit Prefixes Local fire departments often help each other out with mutual aid, particularly when one department is on an active fire. You may have units from other cities filling in to Lewisville stations, or on scene helping with fires. Each department has a numeric prefix they use on all of their apparatus, and you can use that to determine what city they are from. For example, Lewisville's prefix is 16, so if you hear "Engine 161", then you know it's the fire engine from Lewisville, Station 1.
Lewisville: 16 Flower Mound: 50 Carrollton: 11 Coppell: 12 The Colony: 48 Lake Cities: 59 (Corinth, Hickory Creek, Shady Shores, Lake Dallas)
Sorry about the outage. Server is back up now. Apparently my router reset after the last power outage and wasn't letting traffic through. The scanner should work now. If you have any trouble hearing it, feel free to email email@example.com, and I'll shake the box again.
With a little help from some readers, and more cash out-of-pocket, we've gone ahead and ordered a new radio which should be capable of receiving the new digital radio transmissions once Lewisville Police Department upgrades their system. Hopefully we're far enough ahead of the curve that we can do a good bit of testing on it first.
Ideally, we want to upgrade our streaming system so that: - We can stream to Android and Apple devices in addition to the web - Possibly feed into one of the streaming services - Stream and record more than just Lewisville PD and Fire. We may team up with another media outlet to add in additional local first responders, and we may also add the local 2 meter repeater so that we can provide a feed for people to listen to storm spotters during severe weather events.
We didn't raise quite enough money to make this happen without me personally taking care of a big chunk of it. If you want to chip in, please feel free.