Saturday, June 09, 2007

AMTRAK Police Operations

I'm currently working on a show in New York City that has us parked near Penn Station in mid-town Manahattan, and there are usually 3-6 AMTRAK police vehicles parked in the area between Penn Station and Madison Square Garden. This got my interest up in what AMTRAK police officers were using for radios.

I've seen requests on some lists for information about AMTRAK police operations and frequencies. A search of the Internet turns up little information, but I decided to try and piece together as much of it as I could. I think I saw a thread on AMTRAK police on the SCAN-DC list a while back. The frequencies of 173.3500 MHz and 173.3750 MHz came up, and someone pointed to an archived edition of the Capitol Hill Monitors newsletter that has some great info on the AMTRAK police radio channels:

Other web sites have indicated that the AMTRAK police in New York City may have additional channels besides the ones listed in the previous link: F2-160.8150 MHz, F3-161.2950 MHz, F4-161.2050 MHz, F5-161.2950 MHz, F6-161.2050 MHz. 161.3650 MHz is also listed in some sources as an AMTRAK police frequency. These are all channels in the standard US railroad allocations, so in theory they may be using any of the 99 available VHF channels. The 173.3500 and 173.3750 MHz frequencies are not exclusive federal allocations, so you may hear other users on these channels.

Here on location, I have been hearing what appears to the AMTRAK police operations on 161.2950 MHz, 131.8pl. There have been a few incidents over the last few days at Penn Station involving NYFD units, but nothing that seems to have made the news.

Got any confirmed AMTRAK police frequencies you want to pass along? Send them to the Fed Files and Monitoring Times!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

NYC FBI Interop Check-In

I finally had a chance to catch the weekly (I think) test of the Federal Interoperability repeater in the New York City area. The test started at 10AM with "FBI Operations" calling a list of participating agencies on 167.7875 MHz, P-25 digital. The agencies that checked in with FBI Control included:

ATF New York
ATF Newark
US Attorney Eastern District
DEA New York
DEA Newark
US Marshals Southern District
US Marshals Eastern District
US Marshals New Jersey
ICE New York
ICE New Jersey
CBP New York
CBP Tactical JFK
Coast Guard Sector New York
Secret Service New York
Secret Service New Jersey
IRS New York
Park Police Manhattan
Park Police Brooklyn
Postal Inspectors New York
Postal Inspectors New Jersey
US Attorney Long Island
Air Marshals New York
Essex County SO
Nassau County Police

Previous reports that I had received on this interop repeater said that they had heard this repeater tied to 414.750 MHz during these tests, but I did not hear any activity on the UHF frequency during this morning's test.

Earlier in the morning, I caught two FBI radio techs checking coverage of this repeater with a hand held radio. The gentleman that was mobile was north of the NYC area on I-287 near the White Plains area, which is apparently the northern limit on this repeater.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Washington DC Trip

I just spent a few days working in the Washington DC area. Too much to listen to there!!! Besides all the new trunked systems and military stuff, the federal bands are just hopping there with almost every federal frequency allocation being used.

Notes and frequencies from my trip will be featured in an upcoming Fed Files, but a couple of interesting notes:

In the July Monitoring Times Fed Files, there will be a feature on the Secret Service. As I noted on that column, the Secret Service has switched over the P-25 digital modes, but does not seem to be 100% full time encrypted. Some transmission on 165.7875 MHz (BAKER) were in clear P-25.

The Uniformed Division of the Secret Service is highly visible and very busy with encrypted P-25 operations on their VHF frequencies (also featured in the upcoming MT).

167.4125 MHz was busy with what sounded like a large, rolling surveillance operation by the FBI. Strangely it was all analog, in the clear. Perhaps units from different areas without the right encryption keys?

Most of the UHF federal band is full of Motorola and LTR PassPort trunked systems. But there are a few conventional systems in the UHF band there.

DoD military APCO P-25 trunked systems in the 380 MHz band are springing up like weeds in a back yard around the DC area. Hard to keep track of who's on first with those, as they are encrypted on about 80% of the traffic heard.

2007 National Hurrican Operations Plan

From the Office of the Federal Coordinator for Meteorology:

Interesting document with several references to communications. Here are a few highlites: The 53 WRS shall only use the call sign "Teal ##," AOC shallonly use "NOAA ##," NASA shall only use "NASA ##," and NRL shall useonly Warlock587.ATC will provide TEAL and NOAA aircraft priority handling when specifically requested. During NHOP missions, commencing 5 minutes prior torelease of dropsondes from FL190 or higher, the aircraft commander will broadcast in the blind on radio frequencies 121.5 MHZ and 243.0 MHZ to advise any traffic in thearea of the impending drop. Pilots shall not make these broadcasts if they will interfere with routine ATCcommunications, such as in the vicinity of an airport approach control facility. The aircraft commander is responsible for determining the content and duration of a broadcast, concerning a dropsonde release or sensor activation.
5.9.1. General. The 53 WRS WC-130 and NOAA WP-3D aircraft will normally transmit reconnaissance observations via the Air Force Satellite Communications System(AFSATCOM), commercial SATCOM or high frequency (HF) radio phone patch. Figures 5-12 and 5-13 depict the ASDL and AFSATCOM communications links. The NOAA G-IV will normally transmit WMO Temp Drop messages via commercial SATCOM. Flight meteorologists should contact CARCAH following the first fix, and periodically throughout the mission.
5.9.2. Air-to-Ground Communications (HF Radio). The weather reconnaissance crew may relay weather data via direct telephone patch to the weather data monitor. Monitors will evaluate these reports and disseminate them through the Air Force'sAutomated Weather Network (AWN) or to the weather communications facility at Suitland, Maryland. When requested, aeronautical stations will provide a discrete frequency for mission use, if possible. Specific radio procedures and terminology will comply with Allied Communications Publication 125, Standard Telephone and Radio Procedures. The use of IMMEDIATE precedence for transmission of hurricane reconnaissance data is authorized because of the perishable nature and potential operational impact of weather data. Data will be routed by direct phone patch between the aircraft and CARCAH.
5.9.3. Air-to-Air Communications. When more than one aircraft is known to be operating in a particular area of interest, the following frequencies will be used for airplane-to-airplane communications and coordination unless otherwise directed by air traffic control:• Primary: VHF 123.05 MHZ• Secondary: UHF 304.8 MHZ• Back-up: HF 4701 KHz USB

Definitely worth a look! Thanks to Robert Wyman for alerting me to this material!