CHEYENNE — It’s past midnight on a recent Friday and, as usual, Brett is cruising around Wyoming’s largest city with his police scanner tuned in and turned up. He hears it all: traffic stops, officers checking in with local bars and emergency medical calls.
Then there are calls with more action like vehicle crashes, high-speed chases and arrests. That’s when Brett becomes a video vigilante of sorts, rolling up on those scenes and — from a safe distance — recording it all.
Much of this happens while most people in Wyoming’s capital city are tucked away in their homes at night. The 54-year-old independent videographer who runs the YouTube channel Fubar on patroll is on the road, intently listening as the staccato chatter from his police scanner dictates his every move.
The channel is growing in popularity with thousands of subscribers in less than a year following him as he’s documented some of the biggest crimes of the year in Cheyenne.
Brett has lived in Cheyenne for about five years and is the guy behind the wheel and video camera of Fubar on patroll. Cowboy State Daily agreed to only use his first name out of concern for possible retaliation for filming crime scenes and other events around the city.
Brett wants nothing more than to be a fly on the wall, a looking glass for the public into the spectrum of activities, good and bad, happening around them.
“I want to film the story, not be a part of the story,” he said.
Live At The Scene
Brett uses nothing more than his cellphone to get video, but still tries to give law enforcement as much room as possible.
“I’ve got a zoom on my phone, so I use it. There’s no reason to be in the middle of the action,” he said.
On Monday night, a man who was allegedly high and drunk drove his Chevy Monte Carlo into the Sierra Trading Post Fulfillment Center building. Brett was there quickly, filming the man’s slightly combative arrest, from which the Monte Carlo can be seen in the backdrop, plastered into the front entryway of the brick building.
He also has certain ethical standards for his channel, such as never identifying victims, witnesses or filming isolated mental health calls. When he rolls up to car crashes, he puts up a warning on the screen that viewer discretion is advised.
“I don’t know what I am rolling up on and there could be somebody messed up, that could be bloodied up,” he said. “I try to keep that stuff out of frame as much as possible.”
One of his most harrowing shoots came April 30, 2023 when he responded to the drive-by shooting of a 15-year old. Although he did capture medical responders working on the victim, he made a point to not show her face.
As the sound of the scanner’s audio traffic blared from his truck that night, Brett found himself frantically running back and forth between Lincoln Park where the shooting happened and the location where the suspect was arrested, all while his viewers watched from the edge of their seats.
The event had a lasting impact on Brett, and he still visits a memorial to the victim, Baylee Carabajal-Clark, in livestreams with his viewers.
“That was probably the most eye-awakening scene,” he said.
‘I’m Filling A Niche’
Brett sees his work as a mix of night watchman and community service. The alleged crimes and criminals he documents are often not brought to light in the news, he said.
“Cheyenne news sources are very lacking,” he said. “So, I’m filling a niche.”
And while some people document police encounters as a way to discredit law enforcement, that’s not Brett’s mission. Neither is it to advocate for police. He said he doesn’t politicize his videos or channel and doesn’t want others to either.
Although he was a storm chaser in Colorado and sold the footage to a local TV station there, Brett had never documented crime.
When he moved to Cheyenne, he took up listening to the police scanner, a radio system used by police and other law enforcement agencies to communicate with one another. Many agencies such as the Denver Police Department encrypt these communications, but in smaller cities like Cheyenne, they remain open for the public to access.
After starting his YouTube channel last January, he has gathered more than 4,000 subscribers from around the world.
He said some viewers are drawn to his videos out of pure curiosity, while others are First Amendment auditors. There are contingencies that hold both anti- and pro-police views. His only guidelines are that neither political nor religious disputes have a place in the comments attached to his videos.
“Everybody, no matter what their views are, they’ve been able to come together as a community in my channel,” he said. “It’s really amazing how much my community has really come together and supported what I do.”
His work is starting to become so well-known that local residents have started recognizing him while out filming from his silver truck. Because of the serious nature of what he captures, Brett said he doesn’t want that kind of attention.
“It’s got to the point where I’ve got to carry a gun with me,” he said. “I don’t know what somebody’s creeping up on me about.”
Brett says he never planned to start a YouTube channel. His night prowling grew out of an organic desire to document what takes place in his community after dark when most people aren’t watching, a time he believes some crimes are underreported.
He started out early last winter filming arrests and police stops that he’d publish on his private YouTube page. After receiving encouragement from a fellow YouTuber, he went public in January 2023. With the help of another streamer in Ohio, he got more than 50 subscribers signed up after his first night.
There are many YouTubers who do what Brett describes as a “new wave” of reporting in larger cities, but in Wyoming his work is much more rare.
During the early 20th century, legendary crime-and-mayhem photographer Arthur Fellig, also known as Weegee, built a reputation for unflinchingly realistic scenes of urban life, crime, injury and death, and arriving at crime scenes so quickly that he sometimes beat the authorities there.
Brett considers himself and other YouTubers who follow and document the activities of their local police as the next evolution of early crime photographers like these.
However, there are some distinct differences, as Brett has no desire to interfere in any crime scene or get there before authorities do, even if he has an opportunity to do so. There’s been a few times when Brett has arrived at a crime scene and unintentionally become a part of it, blocked in by police cars. Sheepishly, he had to ask to be let out.
“I’ll drive around the block until the police get there because I don’t know what type of scene I’m walking into, I don’t want to get shot,” he said. “I don’t want to be the one filming a body. I’m there to film what’s going on, not be a part of what’s going on.”
Going With The Flow
There is no predictable schedule when following the ebbs and flows of law and order.
Brett usually starts his live show in the early to mid-evening and continues on until his scanner dies, often not retiring until 2 or 3 in the morning.
“I’m hard at it trying to video everything I can,” he said.
Rather than trying to narrate an active crime scene or arrest, he prefers to let his camera do the talking.
Police stops, which to many people may seem mundane on the surface, often result in driving under the influence arrests and drug busts.
Brett believes filming these types of events sends a message to the community that not only will those thinking of driving illegally have to deal with law enforcement, they also might get themselves some face time on his channel.
After he films an arrest or crime scene, Brett later attempts to connect the footage to the person arrested from an event.
In one instance, he filmed the arrest of an officer who had been caught drinking and driving, which Brett said Laramie County Sheriff Brian Kozak now shows to his staff as a warning.
Kozak is a frequent viewer of Brett’s channel and told Cowboy State Daily that Fubar on patroll serves a positive presence in the community as an extra layer of surveillance.
“As long as he knows his boundaries, he can’t interfere with the scene and he knows that, he’s very respectful,” Kozak said.
Brett said he has been pulled over twice while livestreaming for faulty headlights. Although he considers himself an asset to law enforcement, he doesn’t want any favoritism.
“If I screwed up, I screwed up. If I deserve a ticket, I deserve a ticket,” he said.
Not Just The Crime
Brett also interacts with his viewers while shooting live and takes time to receive feedback from his paid subscribers during members-only episodes.
Despite the dark nature of the many things he captures, Brett tries to work in humor when appropriate and jokingly refers to himself as a Men In Black agent.
He stresses that his job is much more than showcasing Cheyenne’s gritty underbelly.
Some of his episodes are tours of local attractions or visits to events like Cheyenne Frontier Days.
He also donates goods to homeless people with money that he and his subscribers have raised. Before starting his livestreams every Friday and Saturday night, Brett makes a trip to Martin Luther King Park to give out food bags, sleeping bags, tents and other necessities to the local homeless population.
“The homeless community has really really reacted well to it,” he said.
Although he originally saw YouTube as a way to make a little money on the side, Brett said the hobby has become much more, even if he still isn’t making a profit from it. His biggest goal at this point is making the channel profitable in order to supplement his disability income.
“It’s kind of taking its own life and going its own direction,” he said. “I never wanted this, I’m just the monkey behind the wheel.”
Leo Wolfson can be reached at Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com.