Sioux City Police consider making scanner listening impossible

By [email protected] Updated on Wednesday, April 06 2016 02:01pm

A meeting was held today about the possible law enforcement radio change to full encryption. No final decisions have been made. Any implementation would still be a couple years off and likely not take effect until new radios are purchased and deployed, this upgrade is already planned. Currently, this change would only affect WCSD and SCPD surrounding agencies have not been a part of the discussion at this time.

The community should properly address concerns, questions, and comments to Sioux City Police Chief Young, Woodbury County Sheriff Dave Drew, Sioux City Mayor Bob Scott, Sioux City Council and Woodbury County Board of Supervisors.   A town hall is scheduled for later in April for community input.

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The Sioux City Journal, Siouxland News and KCAU have recently posted stories about the Sioux City Police Department wanting to encrypt "ALL" of their currently public radio traffic so that nothing they say over their radios can be heard over a scanner.

According to those articles, the reason the police want to do this is because some suspects have been using police scanner apps on smartphones to evade law enforcement.

While we are supportive of our local law enforcement and understand the need for secure police communication that can't be heard by criminals, we do not believe that complete radio traffic encryption is the answer.

Our official response is:
Sioux City Law Enforcement already has encrypted channels and other secure methods of communication they can utilize to do their job safely and effectively without encrypting all radio traffic. Shutting down access to all radio traffic because a few bad apples would be unfair to all who utilize it for good and transparency could potentially be hindered. We believe it would limit the amount of help the Police Department receives from the public as a result of what people hear on the scanner, and the community would be left in the dark when it comes to what's going on around them.

Police Scanner traffic is more than audio coming from a speaker or being nosey about what's happening down the block. It’s about police transparency and allowing the community to be informed. It also allows anyone to hear and better understand the struggles of law enforcement as well as the urgency, the dedication of our officers and dispatchers while protecting our community.

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