'Radio Pirate' Accused Of Highjacking Police Over The Airways
by Nick Beres
MCMINNVILLE, Tenn. - A so-called radio pirate has been accused of hijacking police over the airways.
Officials with the McMinnville Police Department said the suspect piped loud rap music into squad cars for weeks, putting the public's safety risk.
"I don't think it was very funny," said McMinnville police detective, Todd Rowland.
Rowland said someone found a way to tap mostly rap and some country music onto the official radio frequency. During a four week period, the music could be heard playing in every single police squad car on patrol.
Officers could not turn off the radio because they had to maintain contact with dispatch. They could still talk to one another, but the music was a huge distraction.
"We could have missed emergency calls," said Rowland.
Police turned to a local electronics expert to help them track the frequency of the radio pirate. They did locate the suspect as he was sending the signal from his car. They confiscated his ham radio, but he has not yet been arrested.
"My intention and hope is to deter this from ever happening in the future," said district attorney Lisa Zavogiannis.
Zavogiannis said it's such an unusual case she wants to research the potential criminal charges first. The suspect could also face stiff fines from the FCC for interfering with an official police frequency.
Investigators said they do believe this was no mistake and the suspect did this intentionally. The motive has remained a mystery.
Students in the Academy of Energy and Power at Maplewood are busy getting ready for next week's Project Expo and had the opportunity to show it off some of their projects to Tennessee Congressman Jim Cooper.