What I do for WORK:


I began my work career at the age of 12 mowing lawns for 25 cents each and delivering papers that netted me about one cent each.

I then began repairing radios and TV's for people in the neighborhood at the age of 14. I use to love finding one that was beyond repair. This was because the owner would normally give it to me to dispose of. Of course I would drag it home to be cannibalized for parts. This was how I got parts to do repairs and build my Ham Radio equipment. I was licensed April 02, 1962 with my present call, WA8DBW. I was 15 years old. That fall the FCC was testing in Cleveland Ohio at the Federal Building. This was only 35 miles away so off I went. I received my Second Class Commercial license with Broadcast Endorsement. While still in High School I worked at WAPS FM. This is the educational FM radio station for the Akron Public School System. I was everything from Engineer to Disk Jockey, to program director. I had a lot of good times at the station.

 All of my radio and test equipment was home brew and while I loved the challenge of designing and constructing my own receivers and transmitters, I would have given almost anything to have had the ability to purchase a commercially made piece of equipment. While still in High School I designed and constructed a dual conversion receiver with VFO and crystal filter. The first IF was at 11.7 MHz and the second was at 262KC. Why the strange frequencies? Well as I said earlier, I cannibalized old radios for parts. The 11.7 first IF was because I had crystals for the filter that were in the 11.7 MHz range. I used to regrind my own crystals to the desired frequency with Ajax Cleanser mixed in water to form an abrasive past! The 262 KC second IF was the result of my having removed the IF cans from an old car radio removed from a 1955 Chevrolet. I also designed and built assorted converter and transmitters. I still have a 6 meter job that is a 6U8 oscillator - multiplier feeding a 12BY7 that drives a 6146 that drives a 4-400A that provides 1KW on CW, 800 watts on narrow band FM, and 600 watts Plate Modulated AM with a pair of 811A's in the modulator. I still have the receiver, transmitter and modulator today!

 At the age of 17 I began working part time for Collins Radio and TV on Howard Street in down town Akron Ohio. The job did not last long because the owner did not want to pay me a fair wage. I then began working for Papp Auto Radio in East Akron. This was good because I only had to walk one mile to work. Charlie Papp owned the business and he would pay well and even buy lunch for me. Any parts I wanted for myself were at cost and sometimes even free! Charlie was a great guy (he even let me drive his huge Chevy station wagon) who taught me a lot about the repair business. I worked for Charlie until I began employment at AT&T in Cuyahoga Falls Ohio in the summer of 1964.

I also worked part time for Lafayette Radio located just north of Market on Main Street in downtown Akron until 1971. If you remember Lafayette, you are getting old! The owners were Arron Fiet and Arthur Topston. Arron passed away some years ago and last I heard Art was living in Phoenix Arizona, but I have not heard from him in many years. I hope he is still among the living. He should be about 80 now! If you live in the Phoenix area and happen to locate Art, send me e-mail with the information.

This two was a great learning experience in the communications field. In October of that year I went to Chicago and received my first class Commercial License with a Radar and Broadcast endorsement. I became a friend of some nice people who to this day remain close. Among them are Tom Berry, KA8YKP of Barberton Ohio and Harry Geiser, N8MGV of Burton City Ohio. Harry and Tom are also retired. Harry retired from AT&T in Chicago and Tom from Ohio Bell (Ameritech) in Akron. Tom is like a big brother to me. We have breakfast several times a week together and help each other with our assorted projects. This is in spite of the fact that I left the Bell System in 1969 and became an Akron Police Officer. I thought it would be something fun to do for a year. Little did I know it would lead to an additional career!

I retired from the City of Akron Police Department in 1996. I worked in all areas of the department with the exception of the Property Room and the Identification Bureau. After the Police Academy I was assigned to the 3PM to 11 PM shift in the Uniform Patrol Division. I was half of a "Jump Crew" for cars 7, 4, and 10. This was a desirable assignment because we had a variety in that Car 4 was in the Ellet area of the Akron and was very quiet with a low crime rate. Car 7 was in the SW section of the city and had lots of Juvenile problems and was populated by what many officers termed "KenMorons". This was the area of the city that was later to produce the current Mayor of the City of Akron, Don Plusquellic.

After about 3 months I was transferred to the vice squad where I was used primarily to gain entry into illegal liquor establishments. I was then transferred to the Community Relations Bureau and assigned to recruiting with Lt. Jack Cunningham as the unit commander. At the end of this assignment I was transferred back to the Vice unit. My time was cut short by my questioning the integrity and honesty of the unit commander. This resulted in my transfer to the Narcotics Unit. Click this for a picture of me in 1972 while I was working the Narcotics Unit.

My time in the Narcotics Unit was enjoyable. One must remember that the seventies was a different time when compared to present day. People (even the criminals) had respect for Police officers. Unfortunately, today there is a large segment of the citizenry that has no respect for Police, fellow citizens, or themselves. In 1975 I was transferred out of the narcotics unit to the Communications Bureau. I remained in that assignment until Chief Whiddon retired. I then was assigned to the Uniform Patrol Division and worked on the SWAT team. I spent the next few years in a variety of assignments both in and out of uniform. In the early eighties, because of my communications and electronics background, I was asked to accept a temporary assignment in the Communications Bureau. This was a good assignment and I did everything from maintenance to dispatching to computers. During this time the Fraternal Order of Police had been successful in obtaining the rite of officers to bid for assignments by seniority. When I was about to leave Communications for an easy assignment as a Sergeant, I was asked by Major Richard Derrick to stay and help implement the change to civilians in the Communications Bureau.

From 1986 until 1995 I was a Sergeant in the center and found it the most challenging of any of my assignments. I left the assignment in February of 1996 after the Police Communications was combined with Fire and EMS. This created several serious conflicts in the operation of the Police Communications that in my opinion jeopardized the safety of the citizens of Akron as well as that of the Police Officers. I expressed my concerns to my superiors on many occasions. This was in the form of written as well as verbal communications. Unfortunately my communications fell on deaf ears and closed minds. As a result I felt it necessary to transfer to the Detective Bureau to remove myself from a disaster waiting to happen and the vicarious liability that went with the job of a supervisor.

 I was now the Commander of the Street Gang Investigations Unit. While this sounded great I had only one officer temporally assigned to the unit. I immediately began to assess the extent of the gang activity in the community. In short order determined that a minimum of six officers would be needed if the Police Department were going to be serious in their efforts to control the proliferation of gangs and their related illegal activities in the Akron area. I again found myself in a position where my ideas and my desire to do what was best for the community was in direct conflict with that of some of the high level supervisors and policy makers of the department. It was a continual battle to get staff and equipment. My one officer on temporary assignment was sent back to the Uniform Division. I did manage to get two officers assigned to the unit but the powers to be refused to provide any equipment for them to perform their duties. I have always been good at procuring things so over time we managed to obtain some of the things necessary for the performance of the duties of the unit.

We were beginning to develop some good contacts and information regarding the gangs and the criminal activity perpetrated by them. We had developed many good informants and things were looking up until I started an investigation that required the aid of the State of Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and that of the State Attorney General. Our chain of command was changed so that we reported directly to a new Deputy Chief that was of questionable character and honesty. In short order Information was leaked regarding our investigations and we were told by the Deputy Chief that our unit was going to be turned into a "Street Crimes Unit and assigned to the 8 P.M. to 4 A. M. shift! Prior to this time we worked whatever hours were necessary to accomplish or tasks. I advised the Deputy Chief's supervisor of what was transpiring and explained that there was reason to question the integrity and honesty of the Deputy Chief. Again my concerns fell on deaf ears.

As a result of not being able to prevent or stop the travesties and the unethical activities of the Deputy Chief, for the second time in my career I did what was best for me and not the community. In July of 1996 I chose to retire and get away from the undesirables and gross incompetence. I have often said that if it were private industry they would have been bankrupt and the executive board would have been fired, arrested or both.

 In 1996 at the time of my leaving the job, I had 26 & 1/2 years of service. I had the fortune to have had a great career. Each day was different and I would like to think I made at least a small difference. One of my most rewarding assignments was my duty as a "Crisis Negotiator". At the time of my retirement I had 100% success in negotiating the peaceful resolution of all hostage/barricaded suspect situations. This I believe was due to God's blessings and the great training I received from Sergeant Earl Wykoff and the FBI. Some may say that it was simply because of luck or my ability to talk for hours on end. The persons simply could not stand to hear me ramble on any longer! Oh well - That's another story in its self!

During my career with the Police Department I always did other work on the side. I worked part time for Art and Arron at Lafayette radio until 1972. For a number of years I had a Two Way Communications business. I did repair installation, and sales of equipment. I handled Standard, GE, and Motorola LMR equipment. The business grew in the 80's to the point where it was large enough so as not to be fun. It was difficult to find honest and competent help. As a result I closed the business and vowed to only do what was fun. Thus far I have managed to stick with that policy for the last fifteen years.

Since retirement I am no longer one of the boss men. My lovely wife Charmaine is now the boss. I make every effort to comply with her directives. She freely admits that I am a great "House Husband".

When time permits, I do some consulting in the areas of RF Communication, Computers and Industrial Security. I was a member of the parish council at St. Bernard Church in Akron Ohio as well as active in the Knights of Columbus Council 547 and past Grand Knight.  I was also active with the Victims Assistance of greater Summit County, a member of the board of the Association of Retarded Citizens (ARC)  of Summit and Portage Counties and volunteer for many programs and organizations in the greater Akron area.  I was formally the Project Director of the Safe Communities program for Summit County and worked out of the Sheriff’s Office http://www.co.summit.oh.us/SHERIFF .  The Safe Communities program is funded by the Governors Highway Safety Office (GHSO). Visit the GHSO web site at http://www.highwaysafetyoffice.ohio.gov .  I now spend my time with my lovely wife, Charmaine and volunteering with worthy organizations, writing, spending time with my grandchildren and talking on the Amateur Radio bands.

I am also a cancer survivor having been diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2002.  If you wish to talk about cancer – feel free to email me or give me a call by phone or radio.

I am enjoying retirement from the Akron Police and my only complaint is that there is never enough time in the day to accomplish all that I wish to do. But, that is another story, perhaps at some other time....

So long for now and send me your thoughts.

73, Rich  WA8DBW

Retired and loving it.


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