132 and Bush

On September 15, 2011 · 10 Comments

I’ve said it before and it bears repeating: I’m both high-brow and low-brow simultaneously with little in the middle. I admit that I’ve watched more than my share of COPS episodes since it first aired in 1989. It’s one of my guilty pleasures. I can’t be the only one who keeps a laptop close at hand so I can find locations featured on the show in Google Maps and then pop them into Street View. Inquiring minds want to know!

That’s why it’s odd that I never questioned 132 and Bush before. This has to be the most famous, or at least the most repeated address in the history of reality television. This address has been mentioned at the end of every COPS episode starting with Season 2. It’s been broadcasted innumerable of times over more than twenty years of original episodes plus nonstop reruns on a dozen local and cable channels simultaneously, not to mention DVD’s, streaming video and other transmissions. Repetitions of 132 and Bush have to be in the millions by now.

I suppose it’s possible that there might be a couple of people on the planet who don’t know what I’m talking about, so an explanation is in order. The closing credits of COPS include a police radio transmission between an officer and a dispatcher: "132 and Bush, I’ve got him at gunpoint. Okay, gunpoint, 132 and Bush, cover is code three." Actually there’s some debate about that. Some say alternately it’s "coverage" or "covers" but most seem to believe its the first option.



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Great. So where is 132 and Bush? There are several possibilities but a consensus seems to have formed around Portland, Oregon. There are numerous discussions of the finer points of various theories lodged in obscure corners of the Intertubes. The officer.com discussion forum is one such place. This is billed as a site for the law enforcement community to hold discussions, but obviously that doesn’t guarantee accurate answers or even that participants are really police officer for that matter. However, they all write in cop-speak so maybe I’ll give them a tiny bit more credence than the average chat group. If one takes their banter seriously then Portland seems to be the obvious choice.



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According to the leading theory, the conversation starts with an officer holding a suspect at gunpoint; the dispatcher acknowledges the transmission and is sending backup units as quickly as possible with lights and siren on. Ironically, the alleged crime scene in Portland is supposed to be a fairly quiet neighborhood. One would never guess that. It’s been lodged in everyone’s subconscious by COPS for the last two decades. I wonder if it effects the resale value of homes at the intersection and whether the owners have any standing to sue COPS for damages?



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There are minority opinions. A contributor on TV Tourism believes that the location is actually Lakewood, California, which falls within the jurisdiction of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The "13" refers to the Lakewood station and the "2" refers to a specific patrol beat. Instead of "and Bush" it’s "on Bush." Maybe this is plausible, maybe it is not. I don’t know. I couldn’t find a street named Bush in Lakewood, so what Bush is the police officer on, exactly? Maybe I should stop that line of questioning right there.

Portland, Los Angeles and San Diego were filming locations for Season 2 so the locations proposed are at least within the realm of possibility. An even smaller minority opinion involves "somewhere in Florida." This doesn’t seem to be based on much more than the fact that most Season 1 episodes were filmed in Broward County. Yet another theory, cynical this time, is that the transmission is nothing more than Hollywood magic and isn’t genuine at all. That’s no fun.

Take your pick. Based on my cursory review Internet hearsay and totally unsubstantiated theories, I think the answer is Portland.

Oh, and file under things I never imagined possible: Inner Circle, the band that recorded the Bad Boys song in 1987 that serves as the COPS theme, is apparently still active. I’m guessing that 22 years of royalty payments keeps them living large.


From the Mailbag:

A top of the circle to reader Kenneth who pointed out a stretch of the Alaska Canada Highway that crosses from Yukon to British Columbia then YT then BC then YT then BC the YT then BC then YT and finally to BC (I think I counted those right = 10 different crossing between Provinces) in a space of 300 kilometres. Eight of those crossings happen in a 70 km stretch. I don’t know if that’s some kind of record but it’s certainly impressive!

Geography

On September 15, 2011 · 10 Comments

10 Responses to “132 and Bush”

  1. I would guess Portland on this one. A lot of those early episodes were filmed with the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Department under the jurisdiction of Sheriff John Bunnell, who we all grew to love later as the host of World’s Wildest Police Videos.

    “Criminals: out of options, out of control, OUT OF THEIR MINDS!”

    • Yes — (12MC admits sheephishly) I’m more than a little familiar with that one too. Did you ever notice that the “news reporters” in the helicopter always had the same voice even though chases happened in cities hundeds of miles apart?

  2. Scott says:

    Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COPS_(TV_series)#End-credits_sound_clip) agrees with the theory that it is Portland.

    Having worked in law enforcement for the last 3 years, based on the transmission, I believe the theory the the transmission is in Portland or some other location with an intersection of 132nd St. and Bush St. (Ave., Dr., etc.).

    Officers don’t typically say St/Ave/Dr/etc on the radio and numbers are always said as the number or series (eg: One-thirty-two, Number 9, Nineteen). So the transmission “132 and Bush” would refer to the location. Additionally, a dispatcher would never say an officer is “on Bush” during an emergency situation, especially if Bush is a long street. They would repeat the exact location (“132 and Bush”) every time. Oddly enough, the unit’s call sign is absent from the transmission. My guess would be that the producers cut it out to keep the clip non-specific to any particular region.

    • Paul Farley says:

      “132 and Bush” audio in the COPS closer is without a doubt in Portland Ore.

      I can confirm it based on being a retired LA Sheriff Dispatcher with the knowledge a0 there is not a 132nd or a Bush Street in Lakewood, and b) we didn’t use the kind of verbage that Portland does on their police radio.

      I can go even further and point out that “cover” is a Portland’s radio Code indicating an officer needs more units ie: “you’re covers is (responding)Code 3”, and the patrol unit numbering heard on the radio is square on correct for that area of east Multnomah County back in the 80’s At LASD it’s a completely different radio code “BACK-UP OR IMMEDIATE ASSISTANCE” .

      Lastly, I have been to the Portland dispatch center on several occasions and the old-timers used to be able to throw out the name of the most famous dispatcher in the world.

  3. Mike Lowe says:

    Once again you read my mind. I LOVE Cops. I’ve watched it since the early 90s.

    Great work!

  4. Kevin Rabsez says:

    This is what I was told… “COPS ends each episode using the line “132 on Bush, I’ve got him at gunpoint… O K gunpoint, 132 on Bush, covers Code 3.” This is a sound clip from a conversation between Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Lakewood Station Deputies and Sheriff’s Communication Center (SCC) dispatcher. They were responding to a call where a Deputy caught a prowler red handed. 13 is the prefix for Lakewood Station units and 2 is the geographic beat”

  5. Brian says:

    I live at this intersection. I was just recently told about the theory. It may seem like a quite neighborhood, but there are shootings here all the time. Last month someone was shot 2 doors down from the intersection. Rough place.

  6. Cops fanatic says:

    John langley has confirmed that the transmission is from an episode in portland orgeon in parade magazine.

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