IEEE, ham groups to mark 90th anniversary of first police radio on Belle Isle Saturday

DETROIT – The Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO), IEEE and the American Radio Relay League will mark the 90th anniversary of the world’s first police radio system on Saturday, April 7 on Detroit’s Belle Isle park.

The three groups will be on Belle Isle between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday, and will hold a re-dedication ceremony for a historical plaque and a historical marker at the site of the broadcast, the Belle Isle police station.

Officials with the amateur radio groups say they plan to operate low power emergency radio communication equipment and simple wire, loop, and vertical antennas at the event. It’s a unique opportunity to see amateur radio at work, and to view its place in emergency communications.

Bill Boyke of the Ford Motor Co. Tin Lizzy Amateur Radio Club has registered a special event amateur radio station with the call letters K0P for the event.

A Michigan State Park pass is required to enter Belle Isle for the event by private vehicle.

Detroit Patrolman Kenneth Cox and Robert L. Batts, an engineering student, built the first one-way radio for police cars in 1928, after experimenting from 1921 to 1927 with various radios installed in the back seat of a Ford Model T police patrol car. The ability to dispatch cars by radio proved to be a huge advantage in apprehending criminals escaping crime scenes by automobile.

The IEEE historical plaque, dedicated in May 1987, reads as follows:

“At this site on April 7, 1928 the Detroit Police Department commenced regular one-way radio communication with its patrol cars. Developed by personnel of the department’s radio bureau, the system was the product of seven years of  experimentation under the direction of police commissioner William P. Rutledge. Their work proved the practicality of land-mobile radio for police work and led to its adoption throughout the country.”



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.