Commuter heroes who build quiet cars with personal jammers

A gentle bookkeeper, who many believed was a hero of our time, who reached into his jacket pocket and produced a black electronic device with five antennas on it when a fellow traveler started talking on a cell phone.

The Jabberer's phone suddenly went off along with all of the other cell phones aboard this car of an incoming train on the CTA Red Line in Chicago. The accountant enjoyed a few quiet moments Tuesday morning before the Jabberer announced he was a cop.

Other plainclothes police officers participated in the arrest. The accountant, Dennis Nicholl, aged 63, was taken off the train and charged with a felony of illegally tampering with a public utility company. His cell phone jammer, made in China, was recorded as evidence.

After being held overnight in Cook County Jail, Nicholl appeared before Judge James Brown in a criminal court. Nicholl stood there as someone who had realized a fantasy shared by many of us trapped with annoying cell phone babblers.

5G cell phone jammer

"Ah, cell phone police," said the judge.

The prosecutor, Erin Antonietti, noted, "Well, a self-proclaimed one."

The suggestion was that Nicholl had acted as a kind of vigilante.

A real cell phone vigilante named Jason Humphreys was arrested outside the gates of Tampa, Florida in 2013. One reason why such traffic jams were made illegal became apparent after MPs pulled over the SUV he was driving.

"MPs reported that communications with the police on their ... radios were cut off when they approached the SUV," a subsequent Federal Communications Commission report said.

The report continues, "Mr. Humphreys admitted that he had owned and operated a cell phone jammer from his car for the past 16 to 24 months. When the vehicle was inspected, the cell phone jammer was found behind the passenger seat cover . Mr. Humphreys said he used the jammer to keep people from talking on their cell phones while driving. "

Nicholl seems to have had his current jammer since at least 2014, when a fellow commuter named Brian Raida accidentally saw it take out on a morning train. Raida's phone broke along with those of the other passengers.

"Everyone was looking at their phones - how the hell?" Raida asked The Chicago Tribune.

Raida remembered saying to Nicholl, "Hey man, nice jammer."

Nicholl is said to have grinned and apparently didn't imagine that Raida had taken a candid photo of him while he was holding the jammer in his hand. Raida seems to be among those who view such disturbance as an unwarranted intrusion and perhaps even a danger at this time when we are so dependent on our cell phones. He sent the photo to the police with the opinion that a jammer is less of a hero than a threat to our time.

"This guy needs to be stopped," Raida said in a subsequent online posting.

More complaints appear to have followed, as well as numerous online discussions. A commuter saw Nicholl sit on an evening train with a bag of Old Style beer. Nicholl took out the black thing with the five antennas and all cell phones within 50 feet were silenced. Then Nicholl rode home peacefully and took a sip of his brew.

Early Tuesday morning, a so-called "mission team" made up of police and federal agents staked out a station where Nicholl had been seen. They discovered him and a plainclothes officer dragged him onto a train. The cop started chattering on his cellphone and watched Nicholl produce the jammer.

The policeman's phone broke. Nicholl had a few moments' rest before his arrest. He reportedly admitted to the police that he knew such jammers were illegal. He admitted that a previous one he had ordered had been confiscated by customs. He had simply ordered a new one that was at least similar to the "GG4 Universal 2G, 3G, 4G All Cell Phones Blocker" that was available for $ 479 on sites like Jammer.

"GG4 is a brand new word in signal jamming technology," says the blurb. “Will certainly block all phones from legacy 2G phones to the latest and most advanced 4G compatible smartphones. GG4 will even switch off HTC Droid or iPhone 5 in a very short time, another cell phone blocker cannot.

What the blurb doesn't say is that such devices can land you behind bars. The Cook County Jail is hardly one

Place where a gentle accountant would like to stay overnight, but there was a blessing: cell phones are banned not only in prison, but also in the courthouse.

If someone had started babbling on a cell phone during the Nicholl hearing, a court officer would have confiscated it and may have taken the perpetrator into custody. Nicholl was held on bail of $ 10,000 for using his jammer to enforce his personal cell phone ban during his work day.

When it got dark, Nicholl had left bail and returned to the realm where people babble forever without a jammer. He returns for a court hearing on March 15, a felon on trial, and a hassle - even a threat - for those who believe in the right to entertainment. Its critics would not be wrong if everyone grabbed a jammer and used it at will.

For those who know exactly how he feels, Dennis Nicholl remains a hero of our time.