Scanner listeners are out of luck in the Sioux City Metro Area

By [email protected] Updated on Saturday, June 10 2017 10:22pm

[Edit to clarify: Siouxland Scanner is not going away, I'll continue to do what I've always done. I just may not know about as many incidents]

I wanted to let everyone know the reason for the lack of posts over the last few days. Siouxland area agencies that use the STARCOMM system started their switchover on Thursday, June 7. In short, the new system is mostly encrypted and are not able to be heard on a scanner. The only agencies that remain on it unencrypted that I have identified at this time are Sioux City Fire Rescue, Siouxland Paramedics, and North Sioux City Police. Monitoring a majority of that traffic requires a digital trunk tracking scanner that does TDMA.

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Other agencies like North Sioux City Fire, Dakota County Fire, Woodbury County Fire, and Iowa State Patrol are not part of STARCOM and are still able to be monitored. Woodbury County Fire also uses STARCOMM and is not encrypted. STARCOMM is now part of ISICS (Iowa State Radio System) Other agencies across Iowa will be joining this system in the future.

What does all this mean for Siouxland Scanner? The radio silence although frustrating has given me something I haven’t had in a year and a half, a break. I have been working with Sioux City Police and Woodbury County Sheriff for months on gaining media access to their newly encrypted dispatch channels. This is in progress, the radio alone costs thousands. When I inquired with other agencies over the months there were no indications that any of them would go encrypted, that either changed or the information I received was incorrect. I’ve begun to reach out to them as well but even if approved this will take time.

The purpose and goal of Siouxland Scanner is to keep the community informed. To tell you the stories that other media failed to in the past. To allow you a method to share information with your neighbors and community members. The radio systems may have gone dark but you still have your questions and I’d still like you to share them. Until cooperation with media and local agencies is achieved you’re only going to hear about incidents these agencies want you to know about and that is often times days after it happens. What good does it do to tell you about an incident days later?

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In mid-2016 Woodbury County Sheriff Dave Drew and Sioux City Police Chief Doug Young announced their plans to encrypt their main dispatch channels during the upcoming upgrades to the STARCOMM radio system, in addition to their already encrypted radio channels used for running license plates and other tactical operations. The reason given was officer safety, that they were finding more often criminal were using their smartphones to listen to radio traffic and keep one step ahead of them. Media was told early on that they would be able to purchase their own radios and be granted access to the encrypted dispatch channels.