Christmas is only a day away, and the Sedalia Police Department is helping area residents stay informed of Santa Claus’ location throughout Christmas Eve night.
SPD has been broadcasting reports from National Santa Watch over its radio frequency since the 1970s, said Sgt. Brad Beard. He said it started when an officer had to work the Christmas Eve shift instead of spending the evening with his family.
“One of the guys had to work Christmas Eve and he wanted his kids to hear how Santa was coming and he didn’t get to get them excited (in person), so he did it over the radio,” Beard explained. “Back then, everyone had a scanner. … I don’t know what officer it was that started it, but we’ve continued.”
Beard has been coordinating reports from National Santa Watch for SPD since 1991. Once he receives reports from NSW, he passes the information on to the telecommunications officers working in dispatch at SPD, who then give the reports to officers and any other citizens who may be listening to scanners at home.
“When I went overseas to Afghanistan in 2006, I typed it up there (and sent it to SPD dispatch),” Beard said. “… I haven’t missed a year yet.”
Beard said he expects to start receiving reports around 6:30 p.m. Christmas Eve, and reports typically come in from NSW every 30 minutes. He added that in years past, local radio stations have jumped in on the fun, broadcasting SPD’s updates on air as they are received.
However, citizens may need to be patient as they listen in, as dispatchers have to give priority to providing local information to officers.
“One year we had a robbery and it went for two hours without a (Santa) update and people were calling dispatch, asking when the next update would be,” Beard said.
Beard said SPD has continued to offer National Santa Watch updates for more than 40 years because “it’s just been fun to do.”
“Some kids don’t get to have presents. We want to make sure they get something for Christmas and this right here is our way of getting that excitement to them,” Beard said. “… We want to keep the excitement going; all kids need excitement.”
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1482 or @NicoleRCooke.