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  • Writer's pictureRochelle Gridley

Radio Squad Cars

In the years before 1937 the Bloomington police could only have a delayed response to calls for assistance or criminal activity. Calls could be put in to the police station, but how were police on patrol to know that they were needed?? Police telephone boxes were scattered throughout the city for police to call into the station -- to find out if there were any emergencies pending. The system required that they stop patrolling every half hour and call in to the station to receive orders. Of course, in emergency situations officers in need of assistance could ask a citizen for permission to use a family telephone, but how many family homes would have had telephone service?

Frank Theis, using a police radio inside a squad car, 1937

In 1937 the Bloomington Police Department invested in radio squad cars for the first time. The radios allowed the police to make faster response to emergency calls. Also, having the radio cars allowed the police to assign a third patrol to the downtown area. Below is an Normal Police officer using the radio in a squad car in 1938:

The photo below is from 1936, when representatives of a squad car manufacturer brought an armored car for the department's inspection. Note the "Tommy" gun and tear gas gun -- and gun portholes in the windshield! What a great shot of the Consistory, the Keiser Van Leer Building and the Depression era post office!

Here a policeman in the Normal Police Department, 1938 is at the radio desk:

Search: "Police" "Normal Police radio" "police radio installation" "police and radio" "Armored cars"

All photos are from the Pantagraph Negatives Collection and are used with the permission of the McLean County Museum of History.

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