Should police communication be public domain(with limitation)?

Lostngone

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Aug 15, 2020
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Starting I would say somewhere in the early 90’s(maybe earlier) the move to encrypt police radio communications started. The claim has always been the criminals could use a scanner(radio receiver) to evade the police. I believe there were actual examples of that happening. With advancements in technology and the move to digital communications and the ease of encryption there has been a move by police forces to encrypt all traffic.

Our local police force in the beginning after going digital and encrypting radio traffic put all radio traffic except tactical radio communication on the Internet with a delay. I believe it was 30 minutes. I felt this was a good compromise between being open and transparent and not putting police officers lives at risk as well stopping criminals from using that information to evade the police. However that only lasted a short time before the police chief said they were going to stop doing that as well and claiming that with a simple smart phone the criminals were using that to evade the police(somehow even with the delay) however no examples were ever given of that actually occurring locally.

My question is, with the goal of being open and transparent and stopping abuse of power do you think police communications should be public domain/publicly accessible to listen to? With some limitations like a delay and limiting access to certain channels.

Right now our local police department is under scrutiny for excessive use of force. The police chief claims he wants to be transparent and open yet we still don’t even have police body cameras on all police here.
 
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Lostngone

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Aug 15, 2020
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Well I know our local Police department encrypts their feeds. They are using the APCO P25 standard.

I want to go down to our city council meeting and address the police chief however I know it won’t do any good. Our police departments idea of being transparent is moving their headquarters into an all glass building(not a joke).



If the local police department would put the feeds up themselves they could build in the delay and they would still have control over it. That wouldn’t make everyone happy because they would still control it but I think with the delay that would eliminate some of the risk of criminals using the feeds.

The police department here uses something called NIXLE to send out public alerts but they are few and far between.
 
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Alli

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Aug 11, 2020
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Interesting question. And I’m not even sure how I feel about it. My first thought was drugs, and how awful it would be if dealers were alerted every time the police were about to show up. Then I couldn‘t think of another example where that might matter.
 

Lostngone

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Aug 15, 2020
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The only other thing I know people complain about is when they didn’t background/warrant/drivers license checks on people you could hear names, DOB, addresses, drivers license numbers and partial SSN’s as well if they had a warrant out on them. I can see that as kind of an issue. Before the advent of the Internet that information only went as far as the radio communication traveled and you needed somewhat specialized hardware to listen but now it is global and almost everyone has the ability.
I think it has been argued in the past that was all public information regardless so it was “okay”.
 
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Alli

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Aug 11, 2020
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This thread is starting to go hand in hand with the one on the voter registration database being hacked...but not hacked, just made available.
 

yaxomoxay

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Aug 13, 2020
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I want to go down to our city council meeting and address the police chief however I know it won’t do any good.
I commend you, do that. All City Councils allow for some Citizen input, give your 2-3 mins speech at a City Council. I disagree that it won't do any good, it might spark some changes in the direction that you want (or just the direction that is needed). It's usually one of the best ways to bring attention to an issue. Also, write to your council member as a follow up.

If the local police department would put the feeds up themselves they could build in the delay and they would still have control over it.
Problem is that 99% of the calls are low profile traffic stops or regular calls in which personal data is often said on the channel.
 
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hulugu

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Aug 19, 2020
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the wilds
As a reporter, I want access to coms as they happen, but get that when something goes sideways, the system might be encrypted, and/or certain communications won't be on the public network.

I also want a clear and transparent way to get recordings of communications, including texts after the fact. So, there needs to be a chain of custody, and everything should be releasable at some point. Officers or agents should not be using Whatsapp or Signal to get around evidence rules and public records laws.

I commend you, do that. All City Councils allow for some Citizen input, give your 2-3 mins speech at a City Council. I disagree that it won't do any good, it might spark some changes in the direction that you want (or just the direction that is needed). It's usually one of the best ways to bring attention to an issue. Also, write to your council member as a follow up....
Problem is that 99% of the calls are low profile traffic stops or regular calls in which personal data is often said on the channel.
I loved taking cub reporters to the local city council, or county meeting for public comment. There's a wonderful aspect of reporting to see what people care about, why they care about it, and how they address it. You get to learn about the local gadflies, and you see who talks to who. And, if you really need to chase down a local pol and they're required to be at the meeting, you can carve out a moment.

Call to the public can be weird, hilarious, or godawful boring—liquor board stuff is terrible—but you can also find real theater.

For instance, this dude:

 
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yaxomoxay

Site Champ
Aug 13, 2020
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I loved taking cub reporters to the local city council, or county meeting for public comment. There's a wonderful aspect of reporting to see what people care about, why they care about it, and how they address it. You get to learn about the local gadflies, and you see who talks to who. And, if you really need to chase down a local pol and they're required to be at the meeting, you can carve out a moment.

Call to the public can be weird, hilarious, or godawful boring—liquor board stuff is terrible—but you can also find real theater.

For instance, this dude:


Ahahhahahahaha that was hilarious. Everyone here at work is laughing Ahahahahah. We have to watch several councils as part of our jobs - or at least be aware of the conversations - and this is the best piece I’ve ever seen. Ahahhahaha
 
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hulugu

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Aug 19, 2020
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Ahahhahahahaha that was hilarious. Everyone here at work is laughing Ahahahahah. We have to watch several councils as part of our jobs - or at least be aware of the conversations - and this is the best piece I’ve ever seen. Ahahhahaha
Friend who teaches reporting public affairs sent me this video with the tag-line "hero." You expect some libertarian mumbo-jumbo, or a push to make soy the official meat, and then, he really gets going.
 
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