Pittsburgh (Pa.) Feed Takedown 3/8/12

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jlinko

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Jul 3, 2004
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37
Location
Leetsdale PA
As a long-time subscriber, I would like to express my concern over the decision to take down the City of Pittsburgh Police/Fire /EMS feed on March 8, during the active shooter incident at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic.

The reason given for the takedown was the "feeding of dedicated tactical channels". The channel assigned by command for SWAT ops was Pittsburgh Channel 7, designated (at least in the RR Database) as follows:

453.45000 WNKK745 RM 186.2 PL Pgh PD 7 Cmd Police Command Post, Special Events, Tactical FM Law Talk

In the latest clarification message regarding law enforcement feeds, dated 1/29/11, blantonl states clearly:

"If a routine dispatch or special events channel or talkgroup happens to have communications such as tactical, tac, car-to-car, NCIC, records, detectives, swat, SRT, and supervisors then that is OK and is not subject to our terms of service."

As such, the feed provider cannot be blamed for the decision by command to put SWAT ops on a clear, repeated channel that is commonly monitored by the general public and media. While I fully understand the concerns of admin re the type of traffic that was being aired, and the right of RR to terminate any feed that they feel they should, I feel that the decision to terminate this feed was excessive in light of the aforementioned circumstances.

In the interest of consistency of customer service, I hope that admin exercises more discretion before arbitrarily removing a feed streaming critical information that is in the public interest. Considering that those in charge of managing the incident clearly had to know that tactical comms were being monitored by the general public, the end achieved by this takedown does not justify the means used to achieve it.

Thanks for your time and consideration.

John Linko N3RTS
johnlinko@bresnan.net
John Linko
 

burner50

The Third Variable
Database Admin
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NC Iowa
Is it not listed as tac channel? It seems that the database had it as a tactical channel and as such is against the rules of this website.

Sent from my DROID X2 using Tapatalk
 

jlinko

Member
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Messages
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Location
Leetsdale PA
It's listed as multiple use, and its actual use is allocated as such. It appears to me that the channel fits the description of a "routine dispatch or special events channel or talkgroup".
 
Joined
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Natrona Heights, Pennsylvania
Decision to take down feed on 3/8/12 from Pittsburgh

453.45000 WNKK745 RM 186.2 PL Pgh PD 7 Cmd Police Command Post, Special Events, Tactical FM Law Talk (copied from your information)

This is what you have listed for the frequency in question.. If we are not allowed to feed Tactical stuff how did this get thru the approval when its listed in your information as Tactical... Also this was not a dedicated feed of only that channel it was scanning several channels. Your feed is on a delay. I just don't see what the big deal is. You had over 2000 listeners , their had be that many listening on a real scanner as well. I feel you dropped the ball on this one either when the channel was approved or when you dropped the feed. How many people did you disconnect that paid for the app?

Brian Maiers
N3SGU
 
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snorcup

Member
Joined
Aug 15, 2006
Messages
1
As a Pittsburgh resident, a feed provider of an area close to Pittsburgh, an emergency service worker, and a regular listener to the feed in question, I feel like I should get my opinion out there.

The Pittsburgh Public Safety radios are mostly (or all) programed with a standard map that includes the channel in question. Everywhere that I can find information regarding the channel, it has a generic description of special events, talk around, incident command, etc.

The channel is normally used for units covering various special events, and normally does not have any traffic which I would consider sensitive, although I have in the past heard cert/sert/swat operating on the "Tac" channels, and it has never been an issue prior to this incident.

Although I don't have any insider information, my feeling is that at some point someone in the incident command structure decided to use this Tac channel, and away it went from there. I would be surprised to learn that there was much consideration besides if the channel was in use by anyone else at the moment. Also form what I have heard talking to people closer to the situation (in a very unofficial capacity) that the agencies involved did not initiate the request.

I'm also assuming that there was no malicious intent on the part of the feed provider, but obviously can't speak for him/her. Again I would speculate that it was included on the scanner as part of the standard Pittsburgh Public Safety radio map, and not much more thought was put into it.

I don't think Radio Reference was out of line taking the feed down during the incident if they felt the need to do so. As someone that works in the field on a regular basis, I actually find some solace in the fact that there is someone paying attention to things like this and making a proactive attempt to look out for the people "on the ground", which I would again guess was the intention.

With all that said, I'm a bit conflicted that the feed is gone. I think working with the provider to review the channels included on the feed after the fact would have been a better approach, while leaving the feed down until a solution had been reached.

I really hope to see the feed come back online. The quality was always top notch, and it has been on my 'favorites' as far back as I can remember. It also has great up time, which can be a challenge.

My opinion of the whole thing is that no one had bad intentions, and an unusual, large scale incident highlighted a potential issue. As opposed to yanking the feed and treating the provider like he broadcast the channels in question with malicious intent, I hope that everyone can talk about it, review what happened, and move on by putting the feed back up.
 

mule1075

Member
Feed Provider
Joined
Jan 20, 2003
Messages
3,892
Location
Washington Pennsylvania
453.45000 WNKK745 RM 186.2 PL Pgh PD 7 Cmd Police Command Post, Special Events, Tactical FM Law Talk (copied from your information)

This is what you have listed for the frequency in question.. If we are not allowed to feed Tactical stuff how did this get thru the approval when its listed in your information as Tactical... Also this was not a dedicated feed of only that channel it was scanning several channels. Your feed is on a delay. I just don't see what the big deal is. You had over 2000 listeners , their had be that many listening on a real scanner as well. I feel you dropped the ball on this one either when the channel was approved or when you dropped the feed. How many people did you disconnect that paid for the app?

Brian Maiers
N3SGU
How many people did you disconnect that paid for the app is not the point i understand that you or they have paid for an app for your phone and in my eyes that is just a waste of money.Now to your feed is on a delay as far as i can tell not much a delay at all if any compared to my feed.Now to the frequency in question is listed as so on and so forth and we are talking about 453.4500 which is a multi-use channel as is 453.950.I have to say to be on the side of caution that RR did right shutting the feed down but i also think their needs to be more communication between the feed provider and the live audio team if their is not a dedicated tac channel and they use normal dispatch channels like they use here in the Pittsburgh area and the city of Pittsburgh in general.As always i could be wrong but it is just a thought.
 
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webstar22

policescanner.ca
Feed Provider
Joined
Dec 21, 2003
Messages
880
Location
Ontario, Canada
This goes back to the blanket policy that anything with the word Tac in it is not allowed even if it is just a name and not really what happens on that talkgroup.
 

jlinko

Member
Joined
Jul 3, 2004
Messages
37
Location
Leetsdale PA
As of this morning the feed is back up, with Channels 7 and 8 apparently removed. While this may satisfy the requirements of the administrators, it is nonetheless a gray area that requires additional clarification. Thanks for the feedback of all concerned.
 

mikewazowski

Forums Manager/Global DB Admin
Staff member
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Jun 26, 2001
Messages
12,076
Location
Central Ontario
How many people did you disconnect that paid for the app is not the point i understand that you or they have paid for an app for your phone and in my eyes that is just a waste of money.
You do understand that Radioreference does not have an app?

The apps are supplied by 3rd parties and they make the money.

Radioreference only hosts some of the feeds these apps rely on.

People buying the app are only paying for the app and not the feeds. Radioreference doesn't owe anybody anything.

If they're that concerned about wasting money, they should be using one of the free apps.
 

04Z1V6

Member
Joined
May 3, 2008
Messages
778
Location
Castle Rock, Co.
Do most of you monitor your feeds? I am not monitoring 24 hours a day, but when I am if a SWAT or other tactically sensitive event comes up I will lock out that channel. In my town of Castle Rock it is relatively a bedroom community and the last time we had an incident the PD switched to all four of the TG'S in the database each time you could hear an officer say "they can't listen in on this channel" (none are encrypted) each time I had to go up and lock out that channel and open the other. It wasn't until the County SWAT team came on scene that they had a TAC or OPS channel that they could truly not be monitored. Why I am writing this is because, would I be shut down if I was not at home and had not locked it out myself ? Not one of the the channels on my feed are "TAC" or are against the provider TOS per the listing in the DB, but could be at anytime. I listen to my feed and have gotten feed back from many, many volunteers from each agency that is provided when I have had problems in the past. Many agencies have volunteer EMS, PD, SO, Victim advocates Etc. that are on a "On call" basis that are paged or called by phone but listen in to this site for better or earlier notification that they need to stop what they are doing and get ready to go and have said so.
How about the feed provider that gets gifts and other things from this site and the media for there feed when things like the aftermath of a large storm or other incident has a bunch of listeners. This type of stuff can be just as tactically unsafe as some of the other incident that we are talking about and more likely to be monitored on this web site by bad people or the media and they can be a huge problem.
 

deevon911

Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2009
Messages
4
New to these forums, and still checking everything out. Found this thread and even though it is old, felt that I could clear alittle up.

1st off I'm a dispatcher for Pittsburgh, and the Ch that is being brought up is Ch 7 on a city radio. It is also a public ch that everyone can hear. This ch is also used by our building inspection, its used for special events, such as say a Presidential visit etc... It is also used by city SWAT during an incident. With that being said, they are fully aware of this ch being public and anyone with a scanner can pick it up.

Now, IMO I understand that if it was the intention of RR to take it down to infact protect Police officers from the active shooter. He may have had a phone and have been able to pulled it up on an app, (chances are the guy didn't have a scanner) but I also understand that people may argue that it could be a public saftey issue, and say that if they knew more, they could have been safer.

So in the end I say, it probably should have been left up, since it is infact, a public channel.
 

W8RMH

Feed Provider Since 2012
Joined
Jan 4, 2009
Messages
8,112
Location
Grove City, OH (A Bearcat not a Buckeye)
The fact that this channel can be received on a scanner is irrelevant as it pertains to a RR feed.

The system that I stream has 5 dispatch channels, 3 special event channels, and over a hundred other talk groups which can ALL be received on any scanner.

Only the dispatch and event channels qualify under the Terms of Service for a RadioReference feed.

I personally do not stream the event channels because they have been used for purposes other than event and/or dispatch.
 
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