Here is my email

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brey1234

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Here is my email to the Police Chief of estes park and encryption. I suggest listeners send a similar email. Mkake sure your polite and respectful. Contact info can be found at: Town of Estes Park Colorado - Mayor and Trustees


Dear Chief Kufeld:

I am a amateur radio operator and I came across the following article concerning encrypting the public safety radio system of Estes Park.

Estes Park Police to encrypt 800 MHz radio channels - Estes Park Trail-Gazette


I understand that sensitive radio traffic, i.e.: drug surveillance, should be encrypted but routine dispatch information should not.

Why? I have attached some articles which prove that when police radio traffic is monitored by law abiding citizens law enforcement has been helped.

City

KSL cameraman goes to the rescue | Deseret News

The Davis Clipper - Teen crashes in stolen car after Syracuse chase

Teen Arrested After Burglary, Foot Chase

Police Radio Encryption: Not Secure, A Transparency Failure, A Public Safety Nightmare | The Cardinal

Police believe home invasion suspects were looking for drugs - News - The Daily Telegram - Adrian, MI - Adrian, MI


Police arrest suspect in W-B bank robbery - Citizens' Voice

Then there is the claim of officer safety. I suggest that members of the Board of Trustees and the Mayor ask you to provide just one DOCUMENTED case of how and when this occurred.

Please consider keeping the routine dispatch communications open to the citizens who are paying for the radio system though taxes.
 

dw2872

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I won't even mention the E-word on the forums here, but I can tell you that citizens who listen to police radio transmissions certainly do help police catch criminals.

Here are a couple examples...

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I was the "tipster" in this article where they caught several armed burglary suspects after I heard them put a BOLO out for the vehicle and then I saw that vehicle on a side street and called it in.
Three arrested in Security for burglaries

(By the way, Fox31 Denver is pretty good but Fox21 Colorado Springs more than got that story wrong. In their story, they said a deputy spotted the vehicle and then surrounded the house. BAD reporting, Fox21, BAD on most stories. No witness or law enforcement EVER said that happened. I have audio of my tip I called in to the dispatcher while I was parked behind that vehicle and video of deputies arriving and pulling out their rifles and calling in SWAT.)

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The other night (actually morning - at 2:08 am) I heard Aurora PD spot a car speeding into their city at about 100 mph and asked dispatch if Denver had anything going on that someone may be running from. She replied no. Officer 202 called out the plate 209 LPG and then say the state was Indiana. But later when he asked the dispatcher what plate he called out all she said she heard was "LPG, Indiana". For some reason she thought it was Officer 209 that called out the plate and only said "LPG" when I don't think they even had an officer 209 on at the time or at least wasn't involved or even close to the incident. Officer 202 and Lincoln-14 (his boss) were very frustrated that the plate wasn't picked up over the air. But I did hear it and it was even audible on RadioReference archives. So of course I called in and let them know and the woman on the phone said it was officer 209 that called out only a partial plate and I told her that "209" was the beginning of the plate. She later confirmed I was right when I called back about what is written in the next paragraph.

It gets better...

Later I heard a BOLO go out on Denver PDs dispatch channels that said Commerce City had had a vehicle involved in felony eluding from them and they got the plate 209 LPG with an unknown state plate at 2:05 pm. So I went and listened to Adams County SO archive and after that car got away, the officer said to inform Aurora since he went into their city. APD does not air BOLOs but it was apparent that the APD dispatchers were also not aware of what the Commerce City officer asked the dispatcher to inform them of, otherwise they would have known the plate number and then informed Commerce City of the state info on the plate. I called Adams County dispatch and they did not know APD had an eluding with that same vehicle. I guess MetroNet does not work if you don't even use it.

So now because of a citizen listening to multiple departments, CCPD has the info of what state the plate was that eluded them and APD got the rest of the plate info they needed, both because dispatchers did not help each other out but a citizen did.

---

I was the tipster who spotted a hit and run driver who killed a man the previous night and called it in prompting a response from Fountain PD, Colorado Springs PD, and El Paso County SO who all caught up to me following him to the house listed in the article. They got him before he was able to get out of his vehicle.
Arrest made in deadly hit and run at S. Circle and Verde | KOAA.com |

Eight years in prison for driver in cyclist hit-and-run
He got 8 years in prison after pleading guilty to that.

---

Denver PD aired a plate to all 6 districts that Greeley PD was looking for in a possible homicide there and DPD aired the plate wrong (transposing a G and a J) on all the channels. I heard the BOLO go out on Weld County SO and the news agencies got that version of the plate but for some reason DPD got it wrong. In the age of License Plate Reader (LPR) technology being on many police cars and intersections, this is a critical mistake.

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A CrimeStoppers flyer from DPD went out asking the public for info about a robbery that involved spraying the clerk with a chemical spray but the time listed on the flyer was 12 HOURS off of when the crime actually occurred (which I personally heard over the radio and then verified that the time on the flyer was wrong using DPD crime report data). This flyer had an error in an important detail that would deter witnesses from coming forward if they saw something suspicious that could be related, but they believed had nothing to do with a robbery after looking at the time of occurrence listed on the flyer.

---

I could go on and on with these kinds of incidents that I have personally been involved with and I have proof to verify each of the incidents above. Citizen listeners can be aware of and tip off law enforcement agencies to save them and officers valuable time and get criminals put where they need to be more quickly.

Don't be fooled. Dispatchers and police know from experience that citizens are their critical eyes and ears and help out many more times than they can count after hearing something on a scanner. Don't be afraid to say something if you hear something!

And don't be afraid to share your stories of how listening actually helps!
 
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Kevin_N

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Another small agency making a disturbing decision. Wow, a lot of BS reasons given. I still have never heard one real example of the public or an officer being being put in danger by regular channels being listened to.

The privacy junk is BS also. Cases of a city or county vs. someone are public record anyway. You can go get a police report just like the media does all the time. It used to be that some towns would even put the names and addresses of people who got traffic tickets in the newspaper.

Does it really matter if someone anywhere in the world hears the name of someone who got pulled over? Of course not. Agencies know good and well how to keep sensitive info off the air.

Another secret police agency means another town banned for me. Just like Fort Collins, won't be going there anymore.
 

Kevin_N

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And it is not considered best practice by all or maybe even most agencies nationwide. Where did that come from? There are plenty who don't think it's a good idea and even think it's good to have the public knowing what's going on and what THEIR police are doing. Generally it's probably good PR.
 

W8RMH

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When Cincinnati and Hamilton County went to their new P25 system the "specifically" left their dispatch in the clear as not to hide anything from their citizens. They had some serious PR problems years ago and this is what the experts suggested.

If this works for a large metro area like that why would these small cities and counties need to encrypt their dispatch. (They want to hide their operations from the very citizens who pay their salaries and pay for their new radio system).

Also what about all the "Official Feeds" where the agencies actually provide their radio traffic directly to a feed.

Citizens have listened to police calls since the1930s when police radio began. It didn't seem to be a problem until low cost encryption became available.
 
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dw2872

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There really should be an easily accessible map where you can see the areas where you cannot listen to public safety communications in Colorado.

Maybe even two maps. One map for law and the other for fire because you would not believe how many fire departments are here are not available on our scanners, especially in far Southern Colorado.

And by the way, I don't see how letter writing campaigns will sway any police chief or sheriff. Nothing about that is in the public eye and they may not even read your entire letter after seeing the subject line. Publicity, good or bad, is what makes a difference. I have heard officers talk about news stories and are really affected by the way they are presented to the public. That is what sways decision makers.
 
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nathancarlson

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In the article it said that "The Estes Park Police Department's 800 MHz radio encryption will not affect its ability to communicate with other emergency services agencies."

Really? I would love to know how that works! I seem to hear pretty frequent mutual aid from both Boulder and Larimer County for medical calls and law enforcement. If that is so, why is State Patrol basically kicked off any incident when Larimer County goes to an encrypted channel during a large scale event?

It seems very dangerous to everybody involved, and I would love to know how they will not lose their ability to communicate with other agencies. Especially considering what happened with the September Floods, where it took a LOT of different agencies to get them and many other communities the help they needed (which is still not complete).
 

brey1234

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Editorial om encryption

The Estes Park Police Department's will encrypt its 800Mhz radio channels beginning the week of Aug. 18.

Officials explained that the decision to encrypt the channels is being done to protect public and officer safety. The move will also bring the town more in line with county practices.

This is not unique to Estes Park and Larimer County. Major cities such as Little Rock, Arkansas has done the same. The same reasoning was given - public safety.

What does this mean for the citizen of Estes Park? Not much if they do not have a police scanner. On the other hand, those who do have a scanner will lose this contact with police.

For some, police scanner chatter has been important in relaying information during incidents of flood and fire when other conventional outlets for such information was limited.

There are pros and cons to the police encrypting their broadcasts.



To encrypt, or not to encrypt: the pros and cons - Estes Park Trail-Gazette
 

Spitfire8520

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In the article it said that "The Estes Park Police Department's 800 MHz radio encryption will not affect its ability to communicate with other emergency services agencies."
My guess is that they are referring to their ability to access a MAC or County MAC if the situation calls for it. I don't agree on that being your primary point of being able to talk to someone else in the event of an emergency, but it's still a way of having the "ability to communicate with other emergency services agencies."

I feel that this editorial, while it does an okay job of showing the pros and cons, doesn't cover the real con of this whole deal. The biggest thing that has been left unmentioned (and often overlooked whenever this subject pops up) is that neighboring law enforcement, and likely their own fire department, will not be able to proactively monitor their communications activity and be able to respond to an incident without going through two dispatchers and a phone line (or some type of console net).

When a local municipality goes towards the security route, they tend to want to keep their keys in house so that no one gets access to them. This means that the Sheriff's Office will not be able to scan their channels and know if an officer is in trouble or if a dangerous subject has just left their town and into the county. Lack of information is generally how officers get hurt or killed when they don't know that the person they are dealing with is a dangerous subject from somewhere else. If they are being really secretive, then that means the fire department might also fall into the information gap and will not be able to hear if a potentially dangerous situation is moving towards their staging location or being able to understand a situation and request rescue resources proactively instead of reactively.

Overall, I agree with Dan. Anyone with power generally ignores text on paper or computer screen if it doesn't conform to their plans and if it comes from a lowly member of the public who doesn't know better (in their mind). Press tends to drive the change quite a bit more. In the recent years, it has generally been towards the negative side with controversy and scanner archives criticizing words said and actions taken. I'd say that's the bigger reason for why the big E looks more and more promising to some of these agencies.
 

brey1234

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Another email from the chief

Greetings Bob,


I do understand your point as well as others in the forum. I appreciate the readings you supplied and have taken them into consideration.


I have been in Law Enforcement for 28 years, early on in my career and even as recent as 10 years ago, giving private information over the police channels was not much of a concern. However, our world as we know it has changed and some folks are listening with the misguided intent to gather personal information of others which as you know, in the wrong hands could result in identity theft. Daily in our routine patrols, we transmit dates of birth, social security numbers, mental health status in some cases, HIPPA information and much more, all in the performance of our jobs. Officers are doing such things as vacation checks, which gives away locations of folks who are leaving their homes unattended. Juveniles names are broadcasted over the radio as well as sexual assault victims or domestic violence victims. The list Bob really goes on and on and there comes a point in time when the amount of information must be restricted. Its really a shame our world has reached that stage. My intent is not to cut out the community rather to protect their interest. Our Police Department spends considerable time being part of our community and keeping them informed. Its critical to be good partners with our community. With that said, I feel we would be negligent for not doing what we can to keep their information confidential.


Conversations relating to the encryption of radio frequencies is occurring more and more amongst Law Enforcement officials and agencies. I suspect you will start to see an overwhelming migration in that direction.


Other examples of why its a good idea?
People listening to scanners and racing to beat officers to the scene.
Suspects of crimes barricading themselves in a house knowing the police are coming and taking a ready stance.
Running from the scene due to that same point.
Figuring out times, locations of routine patrols, trying to figure out patterns.
Protecting families and victims of sensitive situations.
I could make a lengthy list from my personal experience of 28 years in Law Enforcement.




In relation to communicating with other agencies, thats a critical consideration, and good question, we have released encryption keys to our partner agencies just so we wont have that interruption of communications.
The town is purchasing its own AM radio station in order to provide urgent information.
We communicate with the business community through a group email alerting them of important information.
We still have mass notification systems through 911. We are very much in tune to our community, after all they are family, friends and visitors of our fine town. Its reasonable to do everything we can to care for those people.




I believe Bob the community should be informed, but not be the subject of releasing information that could harm them financially or possibly morally.


Bob thank you , I appreciate the conversation and hope you understand why we are moving in that direction.


Take care sir.



Wes Kufeld, Chief of Police
Estes Park Police Department
 

dw2872

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Just a quick note about personally identifying information. Colorado Springs PD, Denver PD, and Aurora PD (and probably many others) use a city-wide channel for the kind of personal or sensitive information transfer of which the EPPD chief refers. They could probably learn from older, larger, and more experienced agencies like this but it seems like they always want to learn the hard way. It's not that complicated.

Denver PD calls the channel "Clear-1" and also has a secondary channel. Aurora PD has the same thing.

Colorado Springs PD calls theirs "City-Wide" or "16" (for the channel knob select location on their radio for that talk group).

Other agencies that I've heard (Arapahoe SO, etc) call theirs "data" channels but use them for voice transfer of personal data.
 
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Spitfire8520

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Other agencies that I've heard (Arapahoe SO, etc) call theirs "data" channels but use them for voice transfer of personal data.
Much of Boulder County also refers to them as "Data" channels as well because they are running personal data. Longmont utilizes a data talkgroup and actually keeps that talkgroup encrypted while leaving their primary dispatch unencrypted (for now). It actually makes for fairly convenient listening (in my opinion) since you aren't hearing the pesky personal information when you're listening for events happening.
 

Kevin_N

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See the Estes Park Chief is making it black and white when there is a nice trade off. Agencies that have it right are Grand County - across the mountains from them and Park County. Both have encrypted channels that they switch to when they need to talk about sensitive information. I've heard them switch to those channels when they don't want to say someone's name over the air. It's cases like saying the name of someone who just committed suicide. That's completely understandable and those things should not be put out over the regular air.

Or if they think a suspect is listening they move ops to that channel. It makes complete sense. Many agencies use the in-car computers to send info to the officers that they don't think should be out in the public.

But 90+ percent of what's put out on the air is fine and doesn't cause any issues for anyone. I wish the encryption advocates would't keep talking in maybes and this or that could happen. It's just overblown.

So why not have a channel or 2 that is encrypted and use them when it's really called for and let the rest be how it's been for years and years without one major issue that anyone has heard of in this whole huge country. Then most people will be happy with the trade off. It doesn't have to be all or nothing. There aren't really that many people listening anyway compared to the population, But the people who are listening find it important. Plus they paid a good amount of money to do it. Not very nice to turn their hard earned money into a worthless piece of gear.

And let's be honest, is the real reason that agencies don't like being criticized and use the privacy thing and safety thing as a way to convince the general public - that's what I think.
 

Spitfire8520

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Much like what Dan did for Westminster, I went through the archives from Estes Park Police, Fire, and EMS and Estes Park Police, Fire, and RMNP and created an audio file (link here) of the last words in the clear on the Estes Park Police at 1801. It's a stereo audio file from both feeds with Estes Park Police, Fire, and EMS on the left and Estes Park Police, Fire, and RMNP on the right.

Sounded like they had units switching to Estes Park Special Events most of the day right up until 1801 to work with the radio techs on encryption. Estes Park sounded like it was a gradual roll out of encryption as the first cases of encrypted audio seemed to come up around 1143 and were gradually increasing throughout the day until full encryption at 1801.
 

vcorlone

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Regarding Encrypted Channels

We should start a online petition regarding the Freedom of Information Act, We as law abiding citizens should have access to all police activities. After all we as citizens paid for their equipment, not them thought the Homeland Security Act. The media should get more involved in the cause. This just my opinion.
 

LMR_Dude

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VC, FOIA is a federal program so the local govt can tell you to pound sand with a FOIA request. If you want a PD to change policy then the local city council is your best bet, IMO.
 

Kevin_N

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This is true. The only ways I can see it changing if a Chief or administration wants it is if their boss or people who hold the purse strings make them. That would be a City Counsel, County Commissioners, or the Mayor, etc.

The only other way might be if some deep pockets hobbyist started throwing lawsuits at them for whatever reasons. But there aren't enough of us average listeners to make a difference. They can easily tell us to get lost with no consequences. But I'm sure we're all safer now.

It doesn't matter one bit, but Estes Park lost one tourist. I used to go there a few times a year, but I'll be entering RMNP from the Grand Lake side from now on.
 
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