As the police scanners in Chicago go silent, the public may hear less about crime

People in Chicago‘s communities can’t use police scanners to get up-to-the-minute updates on local incidents and crimes.

It’s because Chicago has begun encrypting its radio signals. By the end of the year, all police departments should have encrypted transmissions.

In addition to local people, media entities like WGN-TV, which relies on broadcasts for broadcast, would be impacted by the change.

An attorney for WGN-TV and other media outlets in contract talks with the administration of Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Steven Mandell.

It has been possible to listen in on police scanner transmissions for decades, he added.

Encrypting communications “shuts off the level of information,” compromising both public safety and citizens’ capacity to keep tabs on how their government operates.

Officials from the city said they made the call to ensure the safety of police officers.

The city’s leaders recently wrote a letter to Mayor Mandell warning that “real-time access to police radio exposes vulnerabilities that constitute a severe threat to law enforcement and the public and that can be exploited by domestic and foreign actors – concerns that the [city] must ignore.”

The Chicago Police Department is one of at least a dozen around the country that encrypts their communications to prevent eavesdropping.

Following the completion of the switch, the public will only be able to listen in on Chicago police radio communications via a website that works on a 30-minute delay.

Chris Taliaferro, an alderman of the 29th ward, told WGN he had petitioned the mayor to change her mind.

To prevent the unauthorized use of police radio channels, he supports encryption but is “against” delays.

Taliafero argued, “I think it’s crucial that our residents be able to know what’s going on in real-time.”

One of the most valuable resources we have is information. To wit: “especially in the realm of criminality.”

Pastor Donovan Price helps those who have been victims of crime and their families by arriving at the scene of an emergency, typically within minutes. The scanner is his sole source of information.

He remarked, “I bank on the fact that I can get there immediately – practically before that mother comes down the street because she has heard something happened to her child.”

The majority of police radio channels are now encrypted. The city denied a request from a media outfit to continue monitoring the transmissions in real time.

Source: WGNTV

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