October 5, 2011

Get to Know Police Volunteer David Josephson

Today we sat down with police super-volunteer David Josephson. Wonder why the iPhone app scanner feed became 100 times better this week? Thank David. On top of being a super-volunteer he is also an audio engineer and radio guru. Let's get to know him better!

What made you want to volunteer with the Santa Cruz Police Department?
David: I really like living and working in Santa Cruz and hoped that I could give something back to the community.

What 5 songs do you have on your iPod right now?
   David:  I don't have any songs on my iPod. Sorry, maybe it's weird for an audio engineer to say this but I really don't like recorded music very much, particularly not when it's compressed and re-synthesized as it is with iPods and MP3. But in the music computer at home, there's Bela Fleck, Thelonious Monk, a lot of Bach, David Grisman and some 17th century music from Italy that I'm working on.

Tell the world about your background...
    David: I'm from the east coast, grew up mostly in Berkeley, spent some time in rural northern California, went back to Berkeley for engineering school, worked in geophysical instruments for about ten years and started my own company making microphones in 1988 in San Jose. We moved company and home to the west side of Santa Cruz in 2000. Now the company has 8 employees including the three principals and we're building a reputation worldwide for some of the highest quality microphones for recording and broadcasting available anywhere, www.josephson.com 

What is the coolest thing you’ve done during your tenure at the PD?
  David: Saving the city $19,000 by donating some old walkie-talkies that could be used as trade-ins on new ones. Now instead of sending perfectly good working radios to the factory as trade-ins, they can be kept for backup and special events.

What is your favorite restaurant in Santa Cruz?
   David:  It's sort of a three-way tie, Cellar Door at the Bonny Doon Vineyards, Gabriella Cafe, and Avanti.

Why is it important for people to volunteer with their local government?
  David:  Because if it's going to work, government has to be "we" instead of "they." This is my old Yankee family history talking, I guess, but we did say "of the people, by the people..." There is an economic aspect -- if someone contributes $1000 worth of their labor, that can potentially save many thousands more in tax revenue that would be needed to recruit, hire, support and account for that expertise. This is particularly true for specialized short-term work like the radio stuff I'm doing with the PD. If a group of people called a "city" has a functional requirement that needs a corps of expert, trained people at the ready 24/7, it's most efficient for those people to hire and motivate folks like police officers, nurses, firefighters and the like. But public safety has grown a whole subculture of supplier industries that put their own interests ahead of the people who are served by the public sector -- as a result, agencies get sold stuff that doesn't do what they need. Lots of people in a community like Santa Cruz have specialized experience in fields that can directly benefit their neighbors. It might be okay when times are flush to buy a bunch of extra stuff, but especially when budgets are tight, people who can contribute their expertise where it's needed can make a big difference in equipping first responders with the tools they need.

The feedback that community involvement gives to the people is also important. If a government works by involving its constituents in the work, rather than by building empires of consultants, contractors and vendors, everyone who participates can be a little more aware of how their neighbors are living and what kinds of things they are worried about, proud of, aspiring to, etc. You don't have to join the Peace Corps and go to Borneo to make a difference in a community, you can do it at home.