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General Scanning Discussion For general questions not specific to a model of scanner or general discussion of use of a scanner. Location specific posts should be directed to the regional forums listed below.

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Old 07-18-2011, 3:32 PM
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Default Police Scanner Encryption

Help. I'm a reporter for a newspaper in Jacksonville, Fl. and our friendly neighborhood Sheriff's Office is retrieving the encrypted radios they have us a few years ago. Something about using them for their new officers rather than buying new ones. It's all about control, but this is one we can't fight, at least not with them.

Any ideas. Is there a way to unencrypt?

Thanks,

Jim
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Old 07-18-2011, 3:37 PM
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Buy your own radios, that usually how it's done elsewhere. AND it's the only legal way, you need permission from the originating agency to decrypt their channels.
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Old 07-18-2011, 3:39 PM
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They are unwilling to sell them. Where can we buy them?
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Old 07-18-2011, 3:42 PM
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The model is Motorola XTS 5000R
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Old 07-18-2011, 3:46 PM
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You're going to be S.O.L. It's not only illegal to decrypt it's nearly impossible, at the consumer level anyway. If there was a way to decrypt it would be pointless to encrypt.
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Old 07-18-2011, 3:51 PM
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Memphis Tenn, went trunking 15 years ago, they sued the department for access. An MOU resulted, that allowed the press to buy their own radios from Motorola, then they took the radios to the police radio shop where they were programmed with the groups they were allowed to listen to. Same should apply here, buy your own radio, you don't need an XTS5000R, a 1500 should suffice, get it programmed and coded by the police. That is the only LEGAL way.
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Old 07-18-2011, 4:12 PM
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Thanks. Will contact Memphis....
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Old 07-18-2011, 4:37 PM
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Why contact Memphis when you work in Jacksonville? Contact the geeter with the heater, the Sheriff and ask if the paper can purchase their own radio(s) ($ ouch) and his radio shop can program them for what you're allowed to listen to. 2 birds, 1 stone and going down in order will tell you if their need is genuine or a lame excuse to lock you out of the communications loop. Oh, don't tell him that, our little secret unless we have rats in the server.
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Old 07-18-2011, 6:09 PM
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You could work with your collegues at the other local news agencies and band together to "negotiate" the ability to purchase your own radios that the Sheriff's communications shop will program for you so they'll have control over what you'll have access to (as well as keep you legal). It'll also make it easier for the shop since all radios will be similar so they can simply produce a standard template for "Press Use" and load it onto all of your radios.

If you work together it'll keep everyone with similar access as well as give you more power for the negotiation. Now should the negotiations fail, you can always band together on a series of stories on how the sheriff isn't doing a good job and covering it up in their "web of secrecy". It shouldn't be too hard to find a suspect that claims to have been "mistreated" by the agency and blow this up into a multi-part exposť with front page coverage on the paper and lead stories on all local TV stations. When it turns out to be the suspect's word vs the sheriff's word a simple "If we had radios and could've monitored the situation we probably could've known your deputies were in the right all along."
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Old 07-18-2011, 6:30 PM
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thats what the local news station does up here with stamford. they are doing the same thing with bridgeport also. they buy the radio from northeast communications, northeast gets the ok from the department as to what channels they can program for rx only and the radios get programmed and delivered. nothing hard about that at all. the only thing is it takes a little bit of time.
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Old 07-18-2011, 7:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by n5ims View Post
If you work together it'll keep everyone with similar access as well as give you more power for the negotiation. Now should the negotiations fail, you can always band together on a series of stories on how the sheriff isn't doing a good job and covering it up in their "web of secrecy". It shouldn't be too hard to find a suspect that claims to have been "mistreated" by the agency and blow this up into a multi-part exposť with front page coverage on the paper and lead stories on all local TV stations. When it turns out to be the suspect's word vs the sheriff's word a simple "If we had radios and could've monitored the situation we probably could've known your deputies were in the right all along."
A public request for the complete recording would provide the exact same results in the event of an investigation. There is no requirement or need to hear the traffic in real time which is what you are suggesting in the attempt to do an exposť.
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Old 07-19-2011, 12:27 AM
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Quote:
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A public request for the complete recording would provide the exact same results in the event of an investigation. There is no requirement or need to hear the traffic in real time which is what you are suggesting in the attempt to do an exposť.
You missed the point, the exposť wasn't for actual news (although it would probably help ratings), it was to pressure the sheriff to allow them their radios (and perhaps - wink wink - prevent future stories in the future). Also there may not be an investigation (when it was rightly deserved) if the media wasn't able to know about the story due to the secretive nature of that department so there may not be any public request (which may be what the sheriff is doing this for). While some may call this blackmail, others call it hard bargining and pressure to get what the media previously had prior to the sheriff wanting to take his ball (the on-loan radios they had) and go home.

You do bring up a good additional bargining chip. The media could file a FOIA request for all radio traffic tapes daily (and pressure the lawmakers to allow any requests for encrypted communications to be at no charge) to tie their office up providing the tapes each day until their radio access was restored.
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Old 07-19-2011, 8:41 AM
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I have suggested that exact route for many years, tie them up with the costs of providing the tapes or transcipts (don't like that as much too easily edited) of radio transmissions. The Sheriff may not mind since it won't be coming out of his budget, it probably will come from some other adminstrative office for the county, so that may not work. I like the expose idea, but that could backfire and result in the county saying sue us and it will be years before it's settled. The best is to talk to the Sheriff and see if a MOU can result, then work it out from there. Another option is some sort of secured feed from the SO with what you need to listen to, but you can never tell if it is actually on and working.
It's going to be interesting as more and more PD's go encrypted. The press is the only one who could possibly break this barrier down. They have the money and political clout necessary.
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Old 07-21-2011, 10:07 PM
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While your at reporting why not ask why the 1% ers who abuse everything and we the many have to pay for it every time, either its guns or scanners or whatever its allways the same crap and the many are tired of it. Try reporting that. And btw I've never ever heard of or read of or listened to anyone who has heard of a policeman being hurt or whatever by anyone with a scanner, I guess its just a nice way to tie a ribbon on the move to the dark side. encryption.

Last edited by home121; 07-21-2011 at 10:46 PM..
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Old 07-22-2011, 1:20 PM
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This thread has reached a dead end, I refer you to this one:
JSO To Take Police Scanners From Media Jax FL
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Old 07-26-2011, 3:27 PM
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Default Police scanner encryption

Assuming the radio traffic truly is encrypted, and not simply encoded, you are out of luck.
An option would be to get the sheriff's department to let you guys actually BUY your own two-ways and pay to have them programmed with the channels they will allow you to have. It sounds as though that is not a possibility (plus the radios aren't cheap ... a few grand each at the least).
Are there ways around the encryption? Never say never.
Are there any legal ways? No.
I think the Jacksonville system is a Motorola encrypted digital system, which means there are a number of safeguards built in to protect against someone listening -- even if they could figure out the rolling algorithm (which can be changed pretty easily) used for such systems. Typically, an officer's radio has to authenticate itself to the base, also not an easy task.
In short, your scanner has just become a nifty paperweight.

David Bauer
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