Defund Encryption

W9BU

Lead Wiki Manager
Super Moderator
Joined
Jul 18, 2004
Messages
6,301
Location
Central Indiana
It was never an officer safety issue for decades, now all of the sudden it is?
All of a sudden? I remember some agencies in Indiana using voice inversion scrambling on VHF back in the 1980's. I suspect that it was a wide-spread though not commonly used practice. I assume they were doing it for "officer safety" because even simple receivers and scanners could monitor their comms.

Law enforcement agencies have been trying to keep the public from listening to their comms for years. With modern systems being sold with encryption capability, it's just easier to implement now.
 

trentbob

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Feb 22, 2007
Messages
2,021
Location
Bristol, Pa.
So 007 I'm going to make a couple of assumptions here... you may not be a police officer, I have personally known a thousand police officers in my long career as a newspaper reporter and they don't know the first thing about their radios, with some exceptions of course like KK4JUG. Before the virus the majority of officers in my County didn't even know how to put their apx7000 on encryption let alone change zones to another bailiwick.

My guess is you're a radio Tech that works with the police or for the police in which case other than servicing the radios what right do you have hearing what's going on real time if you get my point. If you are a PO my sincere apologies.

I'm also going to assume that you didn't read a whole lot of this thread. It's about the defunding of encryption and a number of people have pointed out that encryption doesn't cost anything once the systems are laid out and the radios are purchased.

You might want to look at post #130. I made reference to police not having a problem with ham operators, volunteer fireman and EMS, serious hobbyist and media types who purchase expensive radios and program them WITH GOOD INTENTIONS.

Criminals are stupid, that's why they're criminals. They don't buy scanners and program them before running from the police but they're not that stupid that they don't own a cell phone. That's a horse of a different color, I won't discuss here, but if there was a lengthy delay in that case, they WOULD catch him LOL.

Anywho, I see you have made 5 post on RR and four of them were years ago. This is a great site that has a lot of members who are scanner enthusiasts but I know of a handful of pro encryption types who will probably show up here on cue now.

I know a couple who like to rub it in our faces that we don't have a right to real-time listening and I can tell you it is not appreciated on this site but everybody has a right to their opinion. That's what makes a good discussion.
 
Last edited:

GlobalNorth

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
May 2, 2020
Messages
116
How does one de-fund something that requires no subscription, no monthly or annual fees, is built into a critical capital item, has no line item on the municipal, county, or State budget, and can easily be worked around by employees? Try to order a police vehicle with an all vinyl bench front seat now. Fabric buckets are standard and the cost is already built into the car. You'll pay a lot of money per car to have new seats installed just because it was once the 'standard' - the same applies with radios.

Back in the day, Nextel sold a lot of PTT phones to law enforcement because encryption cost significant cash in the analog days and since the cops owned the phones, they could say what ever they wanted on those phones.

Expecting to hear when a search warrant is coming via a scanner is as pointless as listening to the Sinaloa cartel and hoping to find out when the next shipment is due. One might find out after all the excitement and the 'deed is done'.
 

N1KK

Member
Joined
Jun 17, 2010
Messages
70
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.
If you can get a little media coverage from your local TV/Radio you might make enough noise they might hear you. I read Denver, Colo tried to pass some legislation but it failed. With what's going on today I hope they give it another go.
 

mmckenna

I ♥ Ø
Joined
Jul 27, 2005
Messages
12,902
Location
SNCZCA01DS0
I know a couple who like to rub it in our faces that we don't have a right to real-time listening and I can tell you it is not appreciated on this site but everybody has a right to their opinion. That's what makes a good discussion.
I know there are a few that got pretty pushy on the subject, but I think for the most part it's been a pretty civil discussion.

But there is a very valid point here.
The "free" access a scanner hobbyist has to communications has been a side benefit of traditional technology used. Getting radio traffic in the clear for the last several decades didn't have anything to do with the police agencies wanting hobbyists to listen in. It was merely that there wasn't any easy way to stop it. Remember, back in the early half of the 20th century, a lot of police communications was carried out just above the AM broadcast band, and anyone with an AM broadcast band radio could hear transmissions. When they migrated higher up the spectrum, there was no outrage that the average citizen could no longer listen in.
Technology has changed, and it's left hobbyists in the dust. It's been happening all along. Only difference with encryption is there's no way around it. Some hobbyists see this as hitting a brick wall, and it is in some ways. Finding a solution to it is going to take time. Decryption is never going to be an option. The best you can do is to push for keeping primary dispatch in the clear, or having agencies run their own delayed feeds.
But, remember, there's no obligation for any agency to make that available to the general public at this time. You can certainly ask, but I'd recommend not holding your breath.

For Press access, that's been solved by some agencies giving them receive only radios with loaded encryption keys. In some cases the media would need to rent or pay for the radio. That's not unreasonable and it solves the transparency issues.

Many of us have suggested that keeping primary dispatch channels in the clear is a good form of compromise. Having switched encryption modes, or secondary channels that are full time encrypted can solve the privacy issues.

There are many cases where unencrypted communications became an issue for law enforcement. That's not a debate, that's reality.

I understand what others have said here and I can agree with all of them without having to say that encryption is wrong. A lot of it has to do with the individuals point of view. Again, this is all part of a good discussion.
 

trentbob

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Feb 22, 2007
Messages
2,021
Location
Bristol, Pa.
I know there are a few that got pretty pushy on the subject, but I think for the most part it's been a pretty civil discussion.

But there is a very valid point here.
The "free" access a scanner hobbyist has to communications has been a side benefit of traditional technology used. Getting radio traffic in the clear for the last several decades didn't have anything to do with the police agencies wanting hobbyists to listen in. It was merely that there wasn't any easy way to stop it. Remember, back in the early half of the 20th century, a lot of police communications was carried out just above the AM broadcast band, and anyone with an AM broadcast band radio could hear transmissions. When they migrated higher up the spectrum, there was no outrage that the average citizen could no longer listen in.
Technology has changed, and it's left hobbyists in the dust. It's been happening all along. Only difference with encryption is there's no way around it. Some hobbyists see this as hitting a brick wall, and it is in some ways. Finding a solution to it is going to take time. Decryption is never going to be an option. The best you can do is to push for keeping primary dispatch in the clear, or having agencies run their own delayed feeds.
But, remember, there's no obligation for any agency to make that available to the general public at this time. You can certainly ask, but I'd recommend not holding your breath.

For Press access, that's been solved by some agencies giving them receive only radios with loaded encryption keys. In some cases the media would need to rent or pay for the radio. That's not unreasonable and it solves the transparency issues.

Many of us have suggested that keeping primary dispatch channels in the clear is a good form of compromise. Having switched encryption modes, or secondary channels that are full time encrypted can solve the privacy issues.

There are many cases where unencrypted communications became an issue for law enforcement. That's not a debate, that's reality.

I understand what others have said here and I can agree with all of them without having to say that encryption is wrong. A lot of it has to do with the individuals point of view. Again, this is all part of a good discussion.
I can remember two different agencies in the year 2000 that went to digital and they both either gave us Police radios receive only or programmed our own Motorola's. They are the ones that quoted the First Amendment, of course that was before 9/11.
 

N1KK

Member
Joined
Jun 17, 2010
Messages
70
Exactly. I would not expect the ARRL to get involved in a matter that is outside amateur radio.

AFAIK, all of the scanner magazines have stopped publishing. Not enough interest. That should tell you something.
I sort of expected the same but was hoping they might point to a good source to direct this.
 

alcahuete

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jul 24, 2015
Messages
974
Location
Antelope Acres, California
I assume they were doing it for "officer safety" because even simple receivers and scanners could monitor their comms.

That might be a good assumption, but nobody actually said it, not like they do now. It also wasn't terribly widespread. There were always outlying agencies like that, but never widespread like it is now. Heck, there were even patrolmen in certain parts of the country who would deadkey 500 watts on CB Channel 19 for the entirety of their shifts on the freeway, to prevent truckers and such from relaying the speed traps. Oh yeah, I've seen it!



How does one de-fund something that requires no subscription, no monthly or annual fees, is built into a critical capital item, has no line item on the municipal, county, or State budget, and can easily be worked around by employees?
It's a bad choice of words. You don't defund decryption, you simply mandate via legislation or otherwise that encryption not be used.
 

657fe2

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Apr 6, 2014
Messages
25
Location
pasadena
Many people have gotten hung up on the word DEFUND. I was just trying to show, that some Police MGMT in some departments developed an attitude, post 9/11 that the citizens are subservient to the Police. The citizens are the enemy that cannot be trusted. They give lip service to community policing. Now we have the worst relations between the police and citizens that I have ever seen. Encryption is not the only issue by a long shot. But if your a Chief that values encryption over good relations with the taxpayers, then I want you run out my town, give me an example of a secrecy obsessed chief that has great relations with the community.
 

trentbob

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Feb 22, 2007
Messages
2,021
Location
Bristol, Pa.
That might be a good assumption, but nobody actually said it, not like they do now. It also wasn't terribly widespread. There were always outlying agencies like that, but never widespread like it is now. Heck, there were even patrolmen in certain parts of the country who would deadkey 500 watts on CB Channel 19 for the entirety of their shifts on the freeway, to prevent truckers and such from relaying the speed traps. Oh yeah, I've seen it!





It's a bad choice of words. You don't defund decryption, you simply mandate via legislation or otherwise that encryption not be used.
Love the story of the cop blowing out Channel 19 with 500 watts hahaha. Of course from what I remember in those days the way the truckers networked through truck stops and other selected CB channels... that would last about 2 days before everybody on that route knew. Then again, 500 watts, I don't, that might blow out Channel 1, 23 or 40 LOL.

I doubt they'll ever be actual legislation passed regarding encryption one way or the other, in my case with my County it's nothing more than the Radio Room is run by the county by County employees under the auspices of the County Commissioners. The townships and boroughs of the county use the system.

Through lobbying by First Responders, hobbyist and the media along with input by the Association of chiefs of police the County Commissioners made a decision and wrote a policy. It's as simple as that.

When the Chiefs came to them and said we need to go full-time encryption because of the virus the commissioners said NO!... Dispatch stays in the clear with various sensitive channels encrypted. Dispatch can go encrypted at a moment's notice for certain events.

What's kind of funny is when something serious does happen they often are too busy with the response to stop and think about going encrypted.
 

mmckenna

I ♥ Ø
Joined
Jul 27, 2005
Messages
12,902
Location
SNCZCA01DS0
When the Chiefs came to them and said we need to go full-time encryption because of the virus the commissioners said NO!... Dispatch stays in the clear with various sensitive channels encrypted. Dispatch can go encrypted at a moment's notice for certain events.
However, all it would take would be for an agency to decide that using the County for their communications needs isn't what they want. Switch to someone else to run the radio system, maybe an agreement with an adjacent county, and boom, encryption on again.

I think the power that the commissioners think they have is only held in place due to laziness or cost savings. While I'm sure the county could attempt to force an agency to run on their systems, it's unlikely that could really be enforced. All it would take would be for an agency to decide to switch over to voice over FirstNet.

While it's nice that your county has kept things un-encrypted, it's going to be difficult to keep that as technology changes. P25 won't be around forever, and LTE is waiting in the wings to take over. LTE is encrypted all the way. It'll cost money to decrypt that and present it to the public in real time.
 

trentbob

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Feb 22, 2007
Messages
2,021
Location
Bristol, Pa.
Many people have gotten hung up on the word DEFUND. I was just trying to show, that some Police MGMT in some departments developed an attitude, post 9/11 that the citizens are subservient to the Police. The citizens are the enemy that cannot be trusted. They give lip service to community policing. Now we have the worst relations between the police and citizens that I have ever seen. Encryption is not the only issue by a long shot. But if your a Chief that values encryption over good relations with the taxpayers, then I want you run out my town, give me an example of a secrecy obsessed chief that has great relations with the community.
No Doubt that since 2001 the whole scenario changed along with the Patriot Act. No Doubt that Policing and Sheriffing fundamentally changed. There was a heightened vigilance and it was tantamount to wartime with a unified nationalistic approach to defeating Islamic terrorism.

Now, look at what's happening in our inner cities. Inner city government officials are dictating that the police deal with the issues in a very different manner than the response after 2001.

Things change, it's natural for the pendulum to swing and now could be the opportunity to lobby for only partial encryption under the guise of more transparency with today's policing, that's a real Buzz word now.
 

alcahuete

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jul 24, 2015
Messages
974
Location
Antelope Acres, California
However, all it would take would be for an agency to decide that using the County for their communications needs isn't what they want. Switch to someone else to run the radio system, maybe an agreement with an adjacent county, and boom, encryption on again.
Then we take that decision away from them, and put them right back on the system we want them on.


Love the story of the cop blowing out Channel 19 with 500 watts hahaha. Of course from what I remember in those days the way the truckers networked through truck stops and other selected CB channels... that would last about 2 days before everybody on that route knew. Then again, 500 watts, I don't, that might blow out Channel 1, 23 or 40 LOL.

Oh, it was funny as hell. That was back in the day when I was only a CBer...didn't have my ham ticket yet. One of my relatives in Illinois was a trooper. It couldn't believe it when I saw it in his car, with the 102" whip off the fender. He would rubber band the mic open and that was that. He said that almost every trooper did the same.
 

mmckenna

I ♥ Ø
Joined
Jul 27, 2005
Messages
12,902
Location
SNCZCA01DS0
Then we take that decision away from them, and put them right back on the system we want them on.
Who's we?
If you are talking about scanner listeners, that's going to be a tough battle. Not enough to make much impact.

If you are talking voters, that's going to be a tough battle.
Most voters seem to vote the way they are instructed to by their chosen party. When faced with propositions that cost taxpayers money, it becomes an even bigger challenge. There's a lot of voters that are easily influenced, and police unions have a lot of influence. If you can make this a voters decision, more power to you, but that's going to be a lot of work.
 

trentbob

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Feb 22, 2007
Messages
2,021
Location
Bristol, Pa.
However, all it would take would be for an agency to decide that using the County for their communications needs isn't what they want. Switch to someone else to run the radio system, maybe an agreement with an adjacent county, and boom, encryption on again.

I think the power that the commissioners think they have is only held in place due to laziness or cost savings. While I'm sure the county could attempt to force an agency to run on their systems, it's unlikely that could really be enforced. All it would take would be for an agency to decide to switch over to voice over FirstNet.

While it's nice that your county has kept things un-encrypted, it's going to be difficult to keep that as technology changes. P25 won't be around forever, and LTE is waiting in the wings to take over. LTE is encrypted all the way. It'll cost money to decrypt that and present it to the public in real time.
I thoroughly understand what you're saying and it all makes sense, I guess you would have to know how my county is to really understand what's going to happen.

You are actually correct in many ways, it has to do with God help me for saying the word but politics.

Then it has to do with what you were talking about with money and being cheap LOL. Keeping taxes down, elections coming up.

With regard to a few other points you made.

Logistically, the way our county is set up with the townships. Financially it would be impossible for one Township with 40 or 50 cops to have their own 911 system and their own dispatcher and their own radio system, ain't going to happen.

This system is only 5 years old and I predict it will be around for at least another 10 years. Those new Technologies are not being entertained in my County.

Now here's where you hit the nail on the head. All the police Chiefs Association has to do is say we need to do X Y and Z for the safety of our officers because we have intelligence that says a b and c. The County Commissioners will collapse like a house of cards LOL. We have pretty heavy encryption right now except for dispatch channels where they can be encrypted at any time. It's a very shaky position.

Let's put it this way, I wouldn't go out and buy another SDS radio. For now we do have the dispatch channels in the clear for the most part but I think the writing's on the wall.
 

mmckenna

I ♥ Ø
Joined
Jul 27, 2005
Messages
12,902
Location
SNCZCA01DS0
it has to do with God help me for saying the word but politics.
Yep.

Then it has to do with what you were talking about with money and being cheap LOL. Keeping taxes down, elections coming up.
Taxpayers are a bottomless source of free money.
As for elections, all it takes is "What if you called 911 and no one came?". That got used in my county about 15 years ago, and has been used all over the place. Voters that don't understand a thing about the technology can be easily lead into voting which ever way you want. Just takes a good salesperson.

Let's face it, most voters are very easily influenced. It's basic marketing, tell the voter what they want to hear, and they'll do exactly what you want them to do, 100% of the time.


Logistically, the way our county is set up with the townships. Financially it would be impossible for one Township with 40 or 50 cops to have their own 911 system and their own dispatcher and their own radio system, ain't going to happen.
Maybe in some places, but we've got 20 officers total, our own PSAP and our own radio systems.
It's getting harder to do, though. Regional PSAPS make a lot of sense. But they also charge a lot. 911 funds get pillaged by politicians, so money is not always where it's supposed to be.

This system is only 5 years old and I predict it will be around for at least another 10 years. Those new Technologies are not being entertained in my County.
Likely. But we know all it takes is a good salesman/marketer to find the right chief and the right taxpayers. I'd suggest keeping Motorola sales people out of your county at all costs.

...The County Commissioners will collapse like a house of cards LOL.
Yep, see marketing comments above. All it takes is figuring out what scares people, then play off that. Do it right and you don't even have to convince all of them. Fear spreads like VD when the fleets in.

Let's put it this way, I wouldn't go out and buy another SDS radio. For now we do have the dispatch channels in the clear for the most part but I think the writing's on the wall.
Yeah, I personally wouldn't spend a lot of money on one right now. But I tend to run the wheels of things, so I'm not in the "scanner of the month" club.

I understand the concerns, but I think that the fight against encryption is going to be a difficult one. Too many politicians don't think they have to answer to the voters. Some police departments are out of control and have forgotten their roles. Digital is here, analog is slowly fading. Encryption is easy.
 

alcahuete

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jul 24, 2015
Messages
974
Location
Antelope Acres, California
Who's we?
If you are talking about scanner listeners, that's going to be a tough battle. Not enough to make much impact.
We the people. Some are scanner listeners, most are not. But these are unprecedented times as far as police accountability is concerned. I have never seen anything like it in my lifetime, and very well might never again. People are mad about police misconduct, and rightfully so. People want to be able to hold them accountable. Encryption takes a large chunk of that accountability off the table. As I mentioned, it's the same reason police can't stand when the public video records them in performance of their duties. It's way easier to get away with wrongdoing when you're not being watched or listened to.
 

mmckenna

I ♥ Ø
Joined
Jul 27, 2005
Messages
12,902
Location
SNCZCA01DS0
It's way easier to get away with wrongdoing when you're not being watched or listened to.
Maybe. I'm not convinced. A lot of the stuff we've seen has been caught via body cameras, citizens with cell phones, etc. I don't see that scanners have played a big part in any of what is currently going on. Kind of hard to get the whole story via push to talk radio. It's easy for things to happen when no one is keying up. It's easy for the uninitiated to understand what's going on when only hearing what happens on the radio.

I think if there was a real interest in stopping the wrong doing, citizens would push for more ride along programs, more FOIA requests, more involvement with local policing. Again, I'm not seeing much of that, at least not locally.
Some local departments run "citizen corps" that will put interested people through some training, including a lot of discussion and demonstrations on how they do their job. Those citizens then get to participate at a different level than John Q. Public.

I do believe that one of the solutions to everything that is going on is a fundamental change on how law enforcement is done. The current militaristic attitudes have got to change. The de-escalation of force has to become important, and we really need to get policing back to "protect and serve". That seems to have fallen by the wayside.

I think what the taxpayers/citizens/voters want is more visibility, not listening to radio traffic. I've still not been convinced by any of the discussion that most scanner listeners aren't just using it as a form of entertainment. Yeah, there's times when you can use what you hear to your benefit, but it's not what most users are doing.
 

alcahuete

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jul 24, 2015
Messages
974
Location
Antelope Acres, California
Maybe. I'm not convinced. A lot of the stuff we've seen has been caught via body cameras, citizens with cell phones, etc. I don't see that scanners have played a big part in any of what is currently going on. Kind of hard to get the whole story via push to talk radio. It's easy for things to happen when no one is keying up. It's easy for the uninitiated to understand what's going on when only hearing what happens on the radio.
How many times have body cam footage gone missing, or the cops "forgot" to turn the camera on? There's a reason cops don't want citizens recording them with cell phones. What could that reason possibly be? If it was allowed, I would welcome you to come video record me at my job. I would have absolutely no problem with that at all. Why are cops different? It's because they don't want to be held acocuntable. It's because they don't want evidence that can be used against them.

I think if there was a real interest in stopping the wrong doing, citizens would push for more ride along programs, more FOIA requests, more involvement with local policing.
FOIA requests cost money, time, and you have to know an event took place. You can't just go ask for 24/7 audio tapes and transcripts. You would go bankrupt, and the request would be denied. I've made several requests that were either outright denied, were made so expensive that I didn't feel like paying for it, or were redacted to the point of being useless. Hell, in my court case years ago (which was supposed to be a simple speeding ticket case), not only was my request for discovery denied, going the Public Records Request route failed as well. Not only that, but the evidence was actually doctored by the CHP prior to making it to the court!! If that's the crap they're pulling for a $250 speeding ticket, imagine what they're doing with more major cases.



I've still not been convinced by any of the discussion that most scanner listeners aren't just using it as a form of entertainment.
You call it entertainment, I call it awareness and accountability. I've been listening to the police radio every single night since all this riot nonsense started. I'm not doing it for enjoyment or entertainment. Trust me...way more other things I would rather be doing, but I want a head's up for when WWIII comes knocking at my door, so I can be prepared and armed appropriately. The black gentleman found hanged in front of City Hall? That was not much more than 10 miles from my house. His half-brother that was just shot yesterday? 5 miles tops. Was up there about an hour before the shooting, literally a couple streets away.

Do I listen to the radio sometimes for "entertainment?" Sure! But it's more for awareness than anything else.
 
Top