City of San
Chapter Bio: Northern California
Did you know ... Over the years, six presidents of
APCO International have come from the Northern California Chapter of
APCO (NAPCO): Arthur Sowle (when Reno was part of NAPCO), Charles
McMurphy, Henry L. Crutcher, John Powell, Glen Nash and Thera Bradshaw.
NAPCO was founded in 1938 and originally included Northern California
and Reno, Nev.
Brower McMurphy was the chapter’s first president and frequency
coordinator. Since that time dozens of dedicated public safety
personnel have held those offices and played invaluable roles in the
chapter’s success. Many members of NAPCO and the Southern California
chapter (California Public-Safety Radio Association, CPRA) have led and
participated in technical, operational and project committees that have
shaped many of the improvements within the public safety communications
landscape locally and nationwide.
As with most chapters, recruiting colleagues for elected chapter office
and other positions is a challenge. NAPCO is fortunate to have not only
a group of active members, but also retirees, who consistently give
their personal time and expertise to aid the chapter in its efforts. An
excellent example is our senior frequency advisor, Art McDole, who has
served an uninterrupted 43 years in frequency coordination. Art has
been a member since 1949. When he joined the organization, APCO was
known as Associated Police Communications Officers, and the
officers/members built their police mobile radios. (When you see him,
ask Art where they got the aluminum for the chassis.) Art is a
one-of-a-kind pioneer, and NAPCO is grateful to him.
NAPCO currently has more than 380 active members who represent public
safety agencies serving more than 14 million Californian residents and
visitors. Our membership encompasses the northern 48 counties of
California. The San Francisco Bay and Sacramento metropolitan areas
comprise the more urban population centers in our chapter, but the
chapter also has rugged, vast rural terrain, miles of coastline, vistas
with tall mountains, wide valleys, large deep lakes that are home to
many watercraft, national parks, pristine forests, distinct
recreational areas and suburban expanses. We also have many miles of
highway, which may occasionally see one or two speeders. All of this
topographical diversity creates the opportunity for interesting
spectrum usage and sharing, as well as interoperability challenges
among state, county, city, special districts and federal public safety
agencies and those entities that support their mission.
The NAPCO board consists of a Vice President, President-Elect,
President and Immediate Past President. Those elected commit to serve a
one-year term of office in each chair, progressing through each one—a
four-year total commitment. The members elected as the Executive
Council representative and five at-large directors serve two-year terms
of office. Additionally, appointed positions for Secretary, Treasurer,
Sergeant-at-Arms, Frequency Advisors, Webmaster, Chapter Historian and
Commercial Activity Committee Chair assist the board.
NAPCO holds regular, monthly chapter meetings, with the exception of
those months when the Western Regional Conference, North/South joint
meetings with CPRA and the annual APCO Conference & Exposition
are held. A standard chapter meeting includes a business meeting, a
vendor presentation, lunch, door prizes and important engineering
discussions about frequency coordination. Afterward, NAPCO hosts the
monthly National Public Safety Planning Advisory Committee (NPSPAC)
Region 6 meeting. The chapter’s annual meeting is held in December.
That’s when members elect and install chapter officers, present awards
and hold a vendor tabletop exposition. This meeting is always well
attended by many of our retired members, making it a perfect time to
say “hello” to those you haven’t seen for a while.
One of the chapter’s ongoing challenges is enabling members to be
involved in the many and varied chapter activities. Due to the distance
separating members, chapter meetings are held throughout the northern
half of the Golden State, which includes Monterey Bay, points
encircling the San Francisco Bay, the Sacramento Valley, Sierra
Foothills and up and down Central California. We try to distribute the
meeting locations so each member can attend a chapter meeting several
times a year. From time to time our meeting format is fine-tuned to
improve service to our members.
NAPCO’s focus has always been on how to best serve the public’s trust.
Currently, that focus is on the provision of timely and cost-effective
training for both operations and technical staff, the 800-MHz rebanding
transition, which includes NPSPAC’s Region 6 “repacking” of new
spectrum to the true 12.5-kHz bandwidth that will provide additional
channels for both new and existing users. Since the chapter’s
inception, NAPCO members have strived to achieve interoperability for
all public safety disciplines: law, fire and EMS. Since 2001,
interoperability has taken on the urgency of national safety and
The chapter Web site, www.napco.org, provides meeting announcements and
minutes, chapter information, licensing updates, regional planning,
frequency logs, current news items, associated links and our monthly
bulletin, the Northern Californian. We are grateful to retired member
Richard Flanagan who currently hosts the site for us.
Many thanks for the helpful input of Art McDole, Jack Atkinson, Ken
Stuber, Steve Overacker, Cynthia Keehen and, last but not least, Maggie
Perry, whose excellent historical records made this article possible.
--Thomas Yerger, Northern California Chapter