Photo by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times
Kathy Hawn has had a police scanner for most of her life. She’s gained a following on Facebook for posting what she hears called over the radio.

Photo by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times Kathy Hawn has had a police scanner for most of her life. She’s gained a following on Facebook for posting what she hears called over the radio.

Woman listens to police scanner so you don’t have to

Kathy Hawn posts all 911 emergency dispatches she hears in her Facebook group, Alert Whidbey 2.0.

She knows the codes and law enforcement lingo, but she’s still getting used to street names.

Kathy Hawn, the woman behind the Alert Whidbey 2.0 Facebook group, has several police scanner radios in her general vicinity every day and posts all of the 911 emergency dispatches she hears.

The calls range from livestock on the loose and troublesome peacocks to house fires and domestic violence — and a lot in between. There have been calls about fatal car crashes. One time a caller thought they saw a dead body in Dugualla Bay, but then Hawn heard first responders radio that it was just a tree trunk. Lately there have been a lot of calls about a person filming others outside Walmart.

Since August 2020, she has amassed an online following of 8,100 and counting.

Hawn has been listening to scanner chatter since she was about 10 years old. Her mother had a police scanner in the house when she was young. Now she uses an app on her phone called “Police Scanner Radio & Fire” and has a couple of handheld scanners.

The 1978 Oak Harbor High School graduate served in the U.S. Army as an operating room specialist before she went to work at WhidbeyHealth. She is retired now and spends most of the day listening to emergency dispatches.

She once considered taking a job as a dispatcher but was cautioned by a colleague against it.

“He told me, ‘You’re going to want to jump through the phone to help them, and you won’t be able to,’” she recalled. “And he was right.”

Hawn said she started Alert Whidbey 2.0 because she has the time and wants people to know what’s going on around the island.

There was another social media page with a similar name where Hawn used to post about house fires and car accidents, but she decided to start her own page when an administrator kept deleting her posts.

“I think it’s important to show people, to open their eyes,” she said.

Hawn estimated it takes 20 seconds to type out a call. Sometimes she will wait if it’s a particularly active call like a house fire and provide updates as she hears them. She will also wait if the call is a crime report to try to make sure her posts don’t tip off the perpetrator.

“I wouldn’t want my page to be the reason someone got away,” she explained.

Sometimes the calls are difficult to hear and she needs to go back and correct them, or the information keeps changing as first responders learn more. She also doesn’t follow up on calls — although she wonders about the outcome — but instead reads about them in this newspaper.

She has heard from people who appreciate her efforts, like when she told a woman what to do when a tree fell on her house. She noted that she has a significant audience located on the East Coast, many of them people with sons or daughters stationed at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.

However, she has heard from critics and admits she’s made mistakes. Sometimes people complain about the wording or claim she posts too much private information. She doesn’t post a person’s name but will provide cross streets.

She has learned to be careful about the wording of some calls. Most of her posts are close to verbatim of what is said on the radio, but certain calls will simply be described as a “medical call” or “disorderly” instead of going into great detail.

“People make fun of them, and I can’t tolerate that,” Hawn said.

The comments on one call about a woman and her daughter at a marina where the woman jumped into the water particularly bothered her, she said. The woman likely had a mental illness.

“Sometimes I just want to reach through the phone,” Hawn said. “It’s amazing to me how cruel people can be.”

There are some light-hearted calls, like wandering cows or a port-a-potty that blew off a truck.

She’s received a lot of offers of help to keep the page going but said she is wary of letting people she doesn’t know take the reins.

Ultimately, the hobby has given her a unique perspective on those who respond to emergency calls.

“I have a lot of respect for dispatchers,” she said. “They just keep the dance going — it’s amazing to see.”

Photo by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times
Kathy Hawn has been listening to the police scanner radio since she was about 10 years old because her mother usually had one turned on. Now she has several of her own.

Photo by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times Kathy Hawn has been listening to the police scanner radio since she was about 10 years old because her mother usually had one turned on. Now she has several of her own.

More in Life

Photo by Kira Erickson
Digging 4 Dinner Clamming classes planned

The Sound Water Stewards will teach a series of classes for amateur clammers at Double Bluff Beach.

Photo by Kira Erickson
Colfer closing chapter on career as library manager

Debby Colfer is retiring after 21 years as the manager of the Clinton Library.

Photo provided
Quade, right, sneers at Taylor, Lars Larson's character in the play.
WICA’s ‘Starving Class’ delves into humanity

“Curse of the Starving Class” opened Friday, June 11 and runs through Saturday, June 26.

Photo by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News Group
Matias Glass, 4th grade
Students learn about alternative energy sources

Jean Cravy’s SWE class got a hands-on look at three ways to create power without fossil fuels.

"In the Orchard"
Gallery’s June show to feature work of artist Doug Hansen

The theme for Whidbey Art Gallery’s June show is “Recycle: Vision Out-of-the-box.”

Langley resident makes honor roll at Whitworth

Langley resident EZEKIEL PIERSON achieved Provost’s Honor Roll status for the spring… Continue reading

Senior Justin Moberly participates in the parade.
South Whidbey’s class of ’21 celebrates with parade

For a city known for its parades, not much jollification has happened… Continue reading

Widdison, Matthew
Coupeville grad starting residency

Coupeville High School graduate MATTHEW WIDDISON recently graduated from the University of… Continue reading

Photo by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times
Kathy Hawn has had a police scanner for most of her life. She’s gained a following on Facebook for posting what she hears called over the radio.
Woman listens to police scanner so you don’t have to

Kathy Hawn posts all 911 emergency dispatches she hears in her Facebook group, Alert Whidbey 2.0.

Amanda Ferrara poses with ball python Lemon and bearded dragon Drogon. (Photo by Karina Andrew/Whidbey News-Times)
Whidbey woman has warm heart for cold-blooded critters

Amanda Ferrara owns 14 scaly friends of her own, each with its own unique personality.

Photo by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times
Charlie Kimmel feeds Silkie rooster Beatbox and some of his feathered friends.
Beatbox is a one-rooster welcoming committee

The friendly rooster resides on a North Whidbey farm.

Pop-up fine fine art markets set for summer, fall

Participating artists must register at least six weeks in advance.