I'm a little confused by this question, are you asking if the bombers would have been caught faster had they been able to listen in on comms.? Truthfully, it wouldn't matter, they had many many people looking for them, the public included.Case in point, the Boston Marathon bombers. Do you think it would have been a more effective, faster search for them if, if they could have turned on a cheap radio, or a portable TV, and listened in to the entire pursuit including what units were going where?
I can also pose a reverse question to you; can you cite any clear example(s) of a case or cases where a subject was seen and confirmed to have been using a scanner radio to actively evade police? Any court case where it was definitively proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the fact that the criminal had a scanner or any sort of radio is the main causative factor in a law enforcement death or other serious infraction? Someone running from the police on foot? That's quite a talent to hold a scanner to your ear and actively listen, interpret, analyze, decide and evade the police all while focusing all your mental and physical energy on moving as fast as you can away from them. Someone who is being chased knows that the police are coming for them, they don't need any form of radio or TV or facebook or anything to figure that out. Scanner or no, nothing really changes. As much as that line of reasoning is drilled into the heads of all LEO's (and the public) in the US, I have yet to see any true documented case of that happening. Just having a scanner in the house or in the car does not mean that someone- criminal or otherwise- used it.
Look at the Chris Dorner incident or the San Bernardino shooting from my neck of the woods. Both of these incidents happened while our county was in the clear for law enforcement. As was repeatedly said on this site and who knows how many others, the scanner audio was going out in real time on live TV. Would anything have changed had encryption been in place? If you truly think about it, you can only honestly answer a loud resounding NO. Dorner knew he was being chased and as a former cop knew basically how it would all go down.
The San Bernardino shooters knew they were being chased and knew that it was only a matter of time before they would be martyred for their cause. About the only complaint that was posed about it all was the "burn it down" comment that went out over the air, but, let's be honest, CYA for bad tactical maneuvers or dicey comments is really not a legitimate reason for encryption. If anything, it spotlights the reasoning behind why encryption is so dangerous and should be used very sparingly and with much oversight!
And to top it all off, guess what neither Dorner nor the San Bernardino shooters (nor the Boston marathon bombers for that matter) had on them? Scanners! Guess what else? Their phones weren't blasting 5-0 Radio or broadcastify either. This idea that scanners are bad and clear audio traffic is a horrific nightmare for first responders is a pile of bunk. Encryption wouldn't have changed a thing about these incidents and how they went down.
You know what would make it real easy to que all these people in (responders and citizens alike) to potentially life threatening situations in one broadcast? Scanners and clear audio of it. The practical compromise is VERY limited encryption use and allowing the taxpayer indirect use of the expensive radio system that they helped fund to build.NYC has some 40,000 cops and 20,000 firemen plus other responders. Do you think any radio network can clue in 60,000 users all at the same time, except plain broadcast? Now make it a national incident, the next New Madrid earthquake, anything on a similar scale that is historically, geologically, predictable to happen. Can you clue in 100,000 responders with anything except open broadcast? Not really.
So yes, I think citizens often can and should be looped in. But I don't see a practical compromise.
Not to draw offense, but have you ever worked in the field as a first responder? Because I can tell you that the game of dispatcher telephone that you have described above that has to be played to get a simple message from me to, say, a peace officer, is ridiculous. And a majority of the time, whatever is said gets to the other end 180 degrees out of phase and wrong information can get somebody hurt or killed in my line of work. Where I work, no agencies can really talk to each other and the channels that are supposed to be "interoperability" channels are buried in odd zones of the radios that most people don't know or really care how to get to.On intercommunications...sometimes that's what having dispatchers and operators with special patch boxes is for. Anything more extensive than that, could be an economical and technical nightmare. Putting all the "emcomm/auxcomm" radios in one band, i.e. 700MHz, is a nice thought. But UHF is lousy for cities, and no one band is going to allow enough systems to stay out of each other's hair, as best I can tell.
It's always quite embarrassing to have to drive up to a police or fire or other agency unit just to talk to them face to face because playing the telephone game takes minutes and we don't have each other channels in our radios at all. It's even worse doing it on foot with the $8000 dollar radio flapping on my hip that is useless in that critical moment.
I'm really am not trying to stir waves with my replies here, though most probably don't see it that way, I am merely trying to show people from a field perspective the real world problems that politicians and mother M sales reps and desk jockeys at DHS and others don't get to- or simply refuse to- see. As I've said many times, from personal experience, and the experiences of others, encryption is way overused and pointless 90+% of the time.