Roman: I cracked wise on the radio, and this dispatcher came back with a real zinger


Sometimes I’ll be busy on something at work when a crash goes out and a patrol officer gets dispatched to it. Most of the time the officer answers the radio for the call and responds to it.

Every once in a while a patrol cop will get the call and the first thing out of their mouth is, “Is traffic available?”

Obviously, the traffic unit wasn’t available. If they had been, the dispatcher would’ve sent them in the first place. It’s not like the dispatcher was trying to hide the traffic unit and not use them. They would’ve sent them had they been available.

Just go to the call.

There could be any number of reasons why my partners or I weren’t available at the time.

I could’ve been sitting on the toilet playing Candy Crush. I could’ve been on another call, or on a car stop (not too often). I might’ve been report writing or on lunch.

The other night I was working a patrol spot instead of my normal traffic shift when I did something I’ve always wanted to do. I was driving down the street when I heard my patrol call sign called out over the radio by dispatch.


“326,” I replied.

“326 and unit to back. 901, vehicle into a block wall,” the dispatcher said. A 901 is radio code for traffic collision with unknown injuries.

I keyed the microphone and said, “326. Is traffic available?”

There was a long pause as I silently chuckled to myself. I wondered if anyone noticed how silly it sounded. The dispatcher came back with the best reply ever when she said, “784 will be en route shortly.”

I actually laughed even more and smiled when I heard that.

For those that don’t know, my call sign was 784 for 15 years before it was changed to 729. I was impressed by her quick-witted reply and it instantly put me in a good mood.

Right after that my computer blew up with “LOL” messages about the radio traffic. It was truly a funny moment that I’ll never forget.

Thanks for the radio traffic K.G.

Editor’s Note: John Roman is a traffic officer for an Orange County police agency who writes a blog, Badge 415. His posts focus on the human side of police work and safety tips. Roman, a cop for more than 20 years, has handled more than 5,000 accidents as a collision investigator. shares some of his columns.