Defund Encryption

mmckenna

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Dispatchers and their command staff have no place in inserting themselves into telling law or fire folks what to do. If there is an issue, then the SOP is to notify their supervisor and/or watch commander. That person will then notify the appropriate command staff of the agency in question, document the issue, and turn it over to that agency command to handle. If they drop the ball, it's on them. The last thing we need is more stress on our telecommunicators placing command decisions for field units. They aren't trained, sworn, or in the right position to direct/advise those persons on anything.

Maybe it's different in PSAPs that are run by law agencies, but in our center, it isn't that way and I'm not sure I would want to go back to that model.
I hear you 100%. I agree, dispatchers are overworked and don't need more to do.

My point was that it was one of probably several ways to at least sound an alarm if something seemed amiss. I wouldn't expect dispatchers to become law enforcement. Simply notifying their supervisor would be the first step, then the supervisor forwarding the concern to the chief and whatever group oversaw the agency for investigation.

My thinking is that if there were multiple people that had a way to alert someone if things seemed to be going wrong in quick order, that would help. Relying on scanner listeners to be the sole watchdogs is not a solution.
 

N1KK

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zapper1948

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I do not want to start a discussion about the pro/cons of encryption, I just want to let everybody know that I contacted my State Senator and State Assembly member to begin the process of drafting a Bill to ban Encryption on Dispatch channels in California. I have been very distressed by the events that have happened In our country in the past week. The last straw was the video in Buffalo that showed an officer shoving to the ground a 75 year old man now in hospital. The officers involved, lied and attempted to cover up the incident. Enough is Enough. Please join me and contact your elected representatives. We cant hide our problems forever.
Amen brother. Canada is with u.
 

KD0DUJ

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Law enforcement is using encryption to hide from accountability. The most transparent law enforcement agency in my home state of Colorado is the Colorado State Patrol. They only channels that are encrypted are their investigation channels all dispatch traffic is the clear.
 

maus92

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Law enforcement is using encryption to hide from accountability. The most transparent law enforcement agency in my home state of Colorado is the Colorado State Patrol. They only channels that are encrypted are their investigation channels all dispatch traffic is the clear.
Yes, unfortunately. Accountability is compromised when citizens are excluded from the oversight process.
 

657fe2

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Thank You for letting me know about Lancaster PA. When I talk to the lawmakers offices it helps to have examples of other places that have considered this issue and made a decision, hopefully for transparency. Legislature is in Recess now due to "Covid" but hopefully some movement in the fall.
 

KD0DUJ

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Lots.
And that is something that needs to change. Officers get some privacy, meal times, restroom breaks, etc. But the rest of the time there needs to be a way to make the cameras automatically turn on without officer intervention. It would be difficult and require some changes to attitudes, but it's one of the ways they could change perceptions.





Yep, again, something where attitudes need to change.
1. They'd need to stop frivolous requests. Don't ask me to define that, it's easier for me to just assume someone will figure it out.
2. They need to figure out a way to control costs.
3. They need to find a way to prevent people from asking for 24x7 recordings.

It's not going to be easy, never said it would be, but things need to change.




What you listen to and what you may or may not record, probably isn't going to stand up in a court if you tried to use it as evidence against wrong-doing. Too easily doctored, too easily misinterpreted, too easily screwed up. Sure, you may become aware of someone doing something shady, but then what? "I heard it on the scanner" isn't going to stand up in court. You'll need to provide proof, and that's going to take some hard evidence. Any good lawyer would be able to tear apart scanner recordings.
I can get the situational awareness thing, but that's a side benefit of old technology, not something that is provided as a service to scanner listeners. Better ways to disseminate information to the public than scanners.
As a ham radio operator anytime I heard critical incidents being dispatched I have used that information for public safety the scanner is the source of information
 

com501

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Every police officer needs a body cam - first. No matter what encryption is in place, FOIA requests can be made for body cams, dispatch audio, and even phone calls.
 

657fe2

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Body Cams can mysteriously stop working, like when encrypted El Monte killed a grandfather with their SWAT TEAM. Currently the encrypted US Park Police is denying that there are radio transmissions of who ordered what when Trump cleared the park for his photo op. If Park Police were not encrypted, independent sources would know if the crowds were "peaceful" or not. There is alot of shennigans going on.
 

alcahuete

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com501 said:
Every police officer needs a body cam - first. No matter what encryption is in place, FOIA requests can be made for body cams, dispatch audio, and even phone calls.
Body Cams can mysteriously stop working, like when encrypted El Monte killed a grandfather with their SWAT TEAM. Currently the encrypted US Park Police is denying that there are radio transmissions of who ordered what when Trump cleared the park for his photo op. If Park Police were not encrypted, independent sources would know if the crowds were "peaceful" or not. There is alot of shennigans going on.
Well, and herein lies the problem with FOIA/Public Records Requests. If you've ever done it, you would know that stuff just magically disappears. I'm not talking every now and again. It disappears regularly. And what's the recourse? There is none. Every law enforcement department in America knows that. Oh, there was a glitch in the camera. There was a glitch in the audio recording software, etc., etc. And in the digital age, it is SUPER easy to delete audio recordings. You used to have to record over the damn things on tape, but now it's just a click, and *poof* gone.

In my line of work, we keep the tapes for 45 days. After that, they are completely gone forever. By the time someone from the public would recognize that an event took place, fills out the appropriate FOIA paperwork, pays the appropriate fees, etc., that 45 days could be long gone.

AND you have to know an event took place. You aren't going to randomly request bodycam/audio, etc. You have to know something took place in order to do that. Very difficult to do with Encryption.
 

mmckenna

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Well, and herein lies the problem with FOIA/Public Records Requests. If you've ever done it, you would know that stuff just magically disappears. I'm not talking every now and again. It disappears regularly. And what's the recourse? There is none. Every law enforcement department in America knows that. Oh, there was a glitch in the camera. There was a glitch in the audio recording software, etc., etc. And in the digital age, it is SUPER easy to delete audio recordings. You used to have to record over the damn things on tape, but now it's just a click, and *poof* gone.
This is a big issue. Yeah, it's 'easy' to delete files, but it's also exceedingly easy to save files to large backup systems. No reason at all for an agency to archive this stuff for years. And I think you'll find that many do.

The issue is that the "accidents" are allowed to happen. That's a sign of either corruption or incompetence. And I think that's what a lot of people are protesting about. We have lots of 'rules', but it's too easy to ignore, forget etc. The people need to hold agencies accountable. Courts need to hold agencies accountable. Agencies need to hold themselves accountable.

As for the US Park Service stuff, well I think that's one section of the "swamp" that hasn't been drained yet.
 

norcalscan

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...Yeah, it's 'easy' to delete files, but it's also exceedingly easy to save files to large backup systems.
Yeah I manage pretty large systems in IT, both internally and through 3rd party vendors. I can see most PD depts outsourcing the entire camera to a 3rd party vendor. Most of those contracts should have a support/maintenance clause where you can report problems and have them looked into. If a large/lucrative contract doesn't have support, then is that negligence of public funds? If there was indeed a problem, is there now a record of the trouble ticket submitted to the 3rd party vendor to look into why a digital record suddenly disappeared from such a robust and fine product as theirs? Is that camera or video management system immediately taken out of service to await repair? I would hate to spend public funding on products that fail to work. I want the cameras that you see footage of an officer in an all-out brawl with a meth'd up addict and the camera goes flying onto pavement and starts recording the sky, but you can still hear the audio. Now that's a proper hardware investment with public funds.

Same concept with some agency radio systems; spend a lot of onetime monies to replace a system, but then neglect to fund the maintenance so lots of premature failures and early equipment retires etc.
 

mmckenna

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Yeah I manage pretty large systems in IT, both internally and through 3rd party vendors. I can see most PD depts outsourcing the entire camera to a 3rd party vendor. Most of those contracts should have a support/maintenance clause where you can report problems and have them looked into.
Yeah, that's part of it.
The other issue that we've run across is that using services like Google for data storage becomes an issue when you realize they have data centers outside the USA. That's an issue for most agencies (and if it's not, it should be). We had to go through that when they moved all our e-mail to a google hosted service. They had to have Google set us up so no data was stored outside the country.

But, yeah, there's onetime costs and ongoing costs. The big ticket item used to be the one time costs. Now that everything is licensed/subscribed, the one time costs have come down and the ongoing expenditures have gone up. Some agencies don't seem to have caught on to this yet.
There's a good reason to look closely at capex and opex when doing this stuff. Shifting the ongoing costs to opex might look good on paper, but not always make the most sense. There are some good arguments to be made for actually having servers in the back room, and not relying on someone elses stuff.


Same concept with some agency radio systems; spend a lot of onetime monies to replace a system, but then neglect to fund the maintenance so lots of premature failures and early equipment retires etc.
Yeah, my employer fell for that back in the 90's when they put in a trunked system from Motorola. They 'value engineered' the hell out of it, down to the point that there wasn't much value left in the system. No spares, no backup, just enough to make the thing work, that was it.
Then annual contract with whatever Motorola MRSS was in favor that year (seemed to rotate often). No one really hand a handle on maintenance. They sort of figured they bought the system and that was it. And of course Motorola wasn't really interested in doing much that might cut into their profits, so the 'maintenance contract' consisted of some tech breezing through town once a year and sort of looking at the system. Any real issues were an extra cost. System went into the toilet in a few years and took a lot of time and money to get it back.
The system I put in to replace it had spare everything, and from day one, included a maintenance contract.
 

KD0DUJ

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Here is another example of being open and transparent is the Wheat Ridge Police Dept. in Colorado
 

TR-613

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Encryption is included in most radios now in some form. It doesn't really cost anything to implement.

What the budget will impact is the roll out of new radio systems.

I agree, the past few weeks have been disturbing and something needs to change. But banning encryption isn't going to solve it. All officers are carrying cell phones and can just switch the traffic to that if they don't want it heard. Same with mobile terminals.

The solution isn't banning encryption, the solution is getting rid of bad cops.
Using phones isn't practical In emergency situations, I moniter an unnincrypted PD in the area and they use the CAD for all the personal information and they use the radio for regular MVA or erratic driver calls for example, I believe that's how all PD departments should operate communications
 

com501

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A lot of departments are using phones or terminals BECAUSE they don't have encrypted radios. In my area, they are getting their calls that ways instead of over the radio.
 

kma438

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BY ELAINE GOODMAN
Daily Post Correspondent

As Palo Alto police and other law-enforcement departments across the state move to full encryption of their radio systems — meaning the public and the press can’t hear what officers are doing — one big-city department is taking a different approach.

The San Francisco Police Department plans to partially encrypt its radio transmissions when it moves to a digital system sometime after July 1, a police spokesman told the Post on Friday (May 21).

Dispatchers will use certain public channels to send officers to an incident, such as asking units to respond to 123 Main St. for a report of a robbery, according to SFPD spokesman Sgt. Michael Andraychak. Members of the public or the media will be able to hear those transmissions over a police scanner.

After units are dispatched, radio communications regarding the incident will be encrypted and the public won’t be able to listen in, Andraychak said.

But at the conclusion of the incident, dispatchers will state on an unencrypted channel what the outcome was, for example, officers took a report or made an arrest.

Officers will use another set of channels to check a person’s driver’s license information or criminal history, Andraychak said. Those channels will be encrypted.

“It’s sort of striking a balance,” Andraychak said of the new system.

The move to encryption comes after the California Department of Justice in October told law enforcement agencies that they have to protect individuals’ personally identifiable information and criminal justice information when using the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System, or CLETS. Information that needs protecting includes a person’s driver’s license number or their criminal history, for example.

The DOJ memo, from Joe Dominic, chief of the California Justice Information Services Division, outlined two ways a law enforcement agency could protect the information: by encrypting radio traffic, or establishing a policy to not publicly broadcast certain types of information.

The memo gave agencies until Dec. 31, 2020 to comply with the requirements or submit a plan on how they intend to do so.

Palo Alto started encrypting its police radio transmissions on Jan. 5, just minutes after the decision was announced through an email sent to the news media. The city made its decision without any public input or hearings.

Most police departments in Santa Clara County have now moved to radio encryption, including Mountain View and Los Altos.

Since Palo Alto police abruptly moved to encryption, the City Council has discussed the issue. Last month, some council members said they want to explore alternatives to full encryption.

In a blog post on Friday, Palo Alto Police Chief Robert Jonsen said he contacted the Department of Justice to ask for a delay in implementing encryption, but that he had not yet heard back on the request.

In San Francisco, the police department’s radio transmissions aren’t currently encrypted, except for a few channels for tactical responses or investigations, according to Andraychak, the police spokesman. The new, digital radios will meet a national interoperability standard, which allows agencies to communicate with each other by switching to a common frequency.

The feature is important during disasters such as wildfires or earthquakes, Andraychak said. He recalled that when SFPD assisted during the Sonoma County wildfires, officers had to borrow radios from the sheriff’s office there.

The new digital network will have clearer, stronger transmissions and will improve communications for officers down in the BART system, he said.

The new radios cost about $3,500 each including the $300 cost of encryption, Andraychak said, and will be purchased for roughly 2,200 officers.
 

WeldGuy

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OK... here's my $0.02. Nowadays, radio traffic is widely retransmitted over the internet. My belief is this new way for anyone to listen in without even having to invest in a scanner has contributed to police departments feeling the need to encrypt. I don't think there would be nearly the need for encryption if people HAD to spend five or six hundred dollars to listen in.
 
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