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Old 09-22-2011, 10:10 PM
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Wink I guess the media really does care

Press tempers flare over Gray’s move to stifle police and fire communications - D.C. Wire - The Washington Post

D.C. Fire returns to Twitter - D.C. Wire - The Washington Post

I did not see these links posted anywhere else so excuse me if they were. I looked but could not find them.

Well first of all for all of the Twitter Fans out there, DC Fire is bringing back their popular Twitter Feed which to be honest I was not aware of but apparently was very popular. The other link discusses the MPD Radio Encryption issue which me and others tried to tell the press about but I guess they did not figure it out until someone fired up the city room scanner last week. The media is not happy about the MPD encryption including the Washington Post yet it may have been more effective if they had reported this story before the encryption was turned on last week. The new line the city is using about encrypting the MPD traffic is for public safety issues since monitoring police traffic could compromise on going investigations. At least that is a little better than finding a couple of punks with scanner apps on their cell phones. Anyhow they are planning to discuss the subject further with the media and perhaps if the Chief dropped off some MPD Motorola portables off at the Post and the local TV stations everyone will be happy although that still keeps us out in the cold with just the citywide channel and I feel lucky that we still have that. Still the question of "openness" has been raised and there is a slim chance that the Chief can be convinced to have a few district dispatch channels unencrypted. Slim indeed but still cheaper than passing out portables.
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Old 09-24-2011, 10:59 AM
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Public information in your Nation’s Capital: Encryption of police communications, fire department Twitter feed goes dark, cameras seized by police. What does it all mean? A guest column by Gerald Baron. | STATter911.com

Dave Statter has been blogging about this also. There are several interesting comments here concerning openness.
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Old 09-24-2011, 12:24 PM
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pretty soon the us will be like a secret police state. thats the change you get. to much techonology to fast.
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Old 09-24-2011, 2:03 PM
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pretty soon the us will be like a secret police state. thats the change you get. to much techonology to fast.
Like Singapore where it's illegal just to HAVE a scanner, I understand. And, believe it or not, chewing gum is also on the prohibited list.
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Old 09-24-2011, 3:27 PM
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Thank you for the link. Although it appears the Twitter feed is back, I do not use Twitter (at least not yet) so I have no way of confirming if it is back the same as it was or if the DCFD is editing the feed. I of course still feel a scanner is the way to go since you know you are getting the information in real time and imfromation that you will probably never see on Twitter. Yet most of us are not walking around with scanners in our pockets or belts so I think it is a good thing and 10K followers is very impressive. That said I have always believed these issues, be it the DCFD Twitter feeds or the MPD encryption, is the District's attempt to control the flow of information to the media, neighborhood activist groups, and the population in general. This could be no more demonstrated than the MPD keeping the media (including the Washington Post) from a city council ethics meeting. I am pleased that the WP and other media outlets are now at least interested in these issues. I only wish this interest had begun three or four weeks ago. Convincing the MPD for some more unencrypted TGs is going difficult but pressure from the media and other interested groups is our only hope. As slim as that may be.
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Old 09-25-2011, 10:39 AM
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Is Milwaukee, Wisconsin another community where the First Amendment is just an option? Officers cite safety & privacy as reason to remove TV cameraman from non-secure area at house fire. Watch raw video of the arrest. | STATter911.com

More of this is going on in Milwaukee

The argument is made that we won WW2 because the media was muzzled. World War II - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - Wikipedia says that 50 million civilians plus 25 million military died during WW2. With approximately 75 million dead, maybe "won" is not the right word.

I know that "secrecy" was used extensively by the Nazis in their campaigns of death. (IIRC the gas used in the gas chambers was always referred to in generic terms - such as "material for the advancement of the agenda" or something like that.)

I think that there are several factors in play here.

1. Some people might be making a lot of money by selling encryption equipment.

2.. Police Chiefs and Fire Chiefs really dont want to see videos on You Tube showing their troops messing up.

3. With the advent of blogs on the Internet, the concept of "mass media" is being stood on its head.
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Old 09-25-2011, 8:31 PM
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Is Milwaukee, Wisconsin another community where the First Amendment is just an option? Officers cite safety & privacy as reason to remove TV cameraman from non-secure area at house fire. Watch raw video of the arrest. | STATter911.com

More of this is going on in Milwaukee

The argument is made that we won WW2 because the media was muzzled. World War II - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - Wikipedia says that 50 million civilians plus 25 million military died during WW2. With approximately 75 million dead, maybe "won" is not the right word.

I know that "secrecy" was used extensively by the Nazis in their campaigns of death. (IIRC the gas used in the gas chambers was always referred to in generic terms - such as "material for the advancement of the agenda" or something like that.)

I think that there are several factors in play here.

1. Some people might be making a lot of money by selling encryption equipment.

2.. Police Chiefs and Fire Chiefs really dont want to see videos on You Tube showing their troops messing up.

3. With the advent of blogs on the Internet, the concept of "mass media" is being stood on its head.
Oh god what next, the "Loose Lips Sinks Ships" rational? What is funny (or not) about encryption of Public Safety radio systems is that they always seem to occur in places where some kind of local government malfeasants has been discovered and reported by the press. Orange County CA, Jacksonville FLA and recently the District of Columbia all are encrypted and all have also had some local government scandal in recent years but lets forget about that for a second. Just about everyone now has a camera and video recorder available right in their cell phones and networks like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to spread the information. It is like George Orwell's novel 1984 has been turned on it's ear. Yes we are being watched by traffic cameras on the Beltway or in our workplaces to name two yet we are also watching them as well in an incredible unfiltered and unedited way. And this information is broadcasted to the world before most media editors are even aware the event has happened. This issue is in part killing the morning newspaper busisness since most of the news is old news by the time the paper hits our driveway. Yet it is also affecting police activities since every bystander is now potentially a reporter and they do it for free to boot! Perhaps this is something local governments may want to consider before they lay out the bucks to encrypt their radio systems. You may not be able to hear them but you can sure see them. To paraphrase the old newspaper boy, "Extra, read and see are about it"
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Old 09-26-2011, 6:52 PM
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I forgot to list one if the major reasons that might be driving the encryption fad.

4. The FBI has authority to investigate local police departments for color of law violations (excessive force, extortion, etc), and civil rights issues. If local police channels are encrypted, the FBI cannot listen in.
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Old 09-26-2011, 7:37 PM
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I forgot to list one if the major reasons that might be driving the encryption fad.

4. The FBI has authority to investigate local police departments for color of law violations (excessive force, extortion, etc), and civil rights issues. If local police channels are encrypted, the FBI cannot listen in.
If the justice department grants the FBI authority to investigate the local PD or SO, they're going to either get the system key and program their own radios to monitor the locals, or they're simply going to get their hands on some of the agencies own radios. It's a non-issue.
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Old 09-26-2011, 7:59 PM
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Stealing police radios or a system key is a "non issue" ?
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Old 09-26-2011, 8:20 PM
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I'm not sure about how the "FBI needs to investigate Police dept" example would work.

I can see about 2 situations:

- the whole police department went rogue and are using the encrypted radios for their illegal activities; but then as soon as FBI asks for the keys or a radio, they will warn each other and stop using the radios for their secret illegal communications;

- only a couple of officers went rogue; then they wouldn't use the police issued radios for their illegal activities since their honest colleagues could hear them;

What I can definitely see in my area is a royal PITA for the paramedics for not having encryption available. Since the law says they cannot make public / leak patient information, they're using the radios just for dispatching (announcing just the general nature of the emergency and address where to drive to) then they continue the discussion (patient medical history and other details) on cellular or some other private mean of communications. I bet it would be much easier for them to have encrypted radios so they could have the whole conversation in one piece.

Nap.
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Old 09-26-2011, 8:22 PM
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zerg901, The higher goverment of law gives the local law authority to enforce the law. The higher goverment of law can give authority to the FBI to investigate any crimes done by a lower tier law enforcement agency. The FBI has the legal ability to program their radios and monitor any state/local law enforcement agency system. So in a nutshell, they are not stealing anything. And you can rest assure, if they are doing full encryption, FBI is listening. I personally sat with an FBI agent and a Federal prosecuter and he made it clear, they are not friends with local/state law enforcement. The personel I sat with, specificaly do Color of law crimes and there are more of those crimes than you think. Make me sick to my stomach some of the stories we talked about.

Last edited by Seadoo; 09-26-2011 at 8:26 PM..
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Old 09-26-2011, 8:34 PM
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Nap, it is not so much about rouge police officers, it is more if they do their jobs correctly. Just talking on the system or saying something they were not supposed to say can cause a law suit. For instance, I was monitoring a system, and there was an accident on the onbound ramp from a city street to the state highway. The city police would not respond because the idiot sergant told the dispatcher to not send anyone because it was on the onramp so they had to wait for county fire and state police. Now imagine that the person died because they didnt make it intime to the hospital and someone recorded that conversation. they could use that recording to legaly request the recordings from dispatch. but if the system is encrypted, then all this worry for the police goes bye bye. Im not saying this is the only reason, but It is very possible for a reason for them to encrypt.

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Old 09-26-2011, 8:37 PM
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I forgot to list one if the major reasons that might be driving the encryption fad.

4. The FBI has authority to investigate local police departments for color of law violations (excessive force, extortion, etc), and civil rights issues. If local police channels are encrypted, the FBI cannot listen in.
Local law enforcement doesn't discuss who they are going to use excessive force on over the radio, they don't announce that they are using excessive force and they don't broadcast illicit activities by rogue cops over the radios, nor do they plan civil rights violations of citizens over the radio either. WHETHER OR NOT THEY ARE USING ENCRYPTION. So the FBI isn't going to gain any upper hand in any investigation even if they DO have the encryption keys. Good lord...
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Old 09-26-2011, 8:41 PM
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JoeyC, you be supprised to hear what I have heard, At least on my system, they have even been caught by their sergent playing on the radios and told to cut it out.. They have even called suspects certain names and been told over the radio to watch thier mouths BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE LISTENING. The bold wording was actual words said by the sergent.

Last edited by Seadoo; 09-26-2011 at 8:43 PM..
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Old 09-26-2011, 8:51 PM
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Stealing police radios or a system key is a "non issue" ?
Stealing? What on earth are you talking about? If the justice department authorizes the FBI to investigate a local agency, that's going to come with court orders to give the FBI the right to access the system key, get the radios, or whatever means are necessary to conduct their investigation.

So, yes, it's a "non-issue."
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Old 09-26-2011, 8:56 PM
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What I can definitely see in my area is a royal PITA for the paramedics for not having encryption available. Since the law says they cannot make public / leak patient information, they're using the radios just for dispatching (announcing just the general nature of the emergency and address where to drive to) then they continue the discussion (patient medical history and other details) on cellular or some other private mean of communications. I bet it would be much easier for them to have encrypted radios so they could have the whole conversation in one piece.
As an EMS provider, neither the dispatcher or I are putting information over the radio that would violate patient confidentiality laws - there's little benefit that I would find from an encrypted radio. When I contact the hospital to relay patient information, I prefer to use a cell phone, personally.
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Old 09-26-2011, 9:20 PM
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Now imagine that the person died because they didnt make it intime to the hospital and someone recorded that conversation. they could use that recording to legaly request the recordings from dispatch. but if the system is encrypted, then all this worry for the police goes bye bye. Im not saying this is the only reason, but It is very possible for a reason for them to encrypt.
I believe that all these systems are recorded, from the 911 dispatch to the police/fire/paramedics systems, and in case of someone dying because no one showed up at the scene, the recordings would be investigated anyway. I remember reading in the press about a case where the 911 operator didn't act properly and there was a full blown investigation, all it took was the family to complain about the 911 response.

I think that it's mostly about the comfort of these radio systems users, when you know that you're broadcasting to the world at large it can be stressful. In addition to doing your (already stressful) work you also have to watch each and every word you say... I personally wouldn't like it.

Anyway my area is still analog and I did my part of listening and they all sounded perfectly professional. I guess I would have a different opinion on encryption if I ever heard them cussing like truck drivers on CB radio.

Nap.
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Old 09-26-2011, 9:34 PM
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I think that it's mostly about the comfort of these radio systems users, when you know that you're broadcasting to the world at large it can be stressful. In addition to doing your (already stressful) work you also have to watch each and every word you say... I personally wouldn't like it.
As long as you're professional, concise, and relaying appropriate information, there shouldn't be any worry. Rarely have I ever had to "choose my words" for fear of what someone in scannerland might hear.
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Old 09-26-2011, 9:50 PM
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JoeyC, you be supprised to hear what I have heard, At least on my system, they have even been caught by their sergent playing on the radios and told to cut it out.. They have even called suspects certain names and been told over the radio to watch thier mouths BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE LISTENING. The bold wording was actual words said by the sergent.
I've been listening to police comms for decades. I know all of that occurs. But thats a far stretch from what I mentioned earlier.
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