Seven Days article on Burlington PD encryption.

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DaveNF2G

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There doesn't seem to be any way to read letters to the editor on the website. Can somebody let me know if mine is published in print?
 

kc0vgj

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I know doing this in the U.S. is illegal as hell, But do these people know that you can download a decypter and listen in any-ways. Yes it take a few hours for the software to find the decoder key but once you have it the program works great. Not the best audio but you can understand what being said. only work on simplex or non-trunking radios.
 
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DaveNF2G

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There is nothing you can obtain for free that will decrypt anything other than simple voice inversion, which is an analog method of scrambling. Digital encryption is beyond the capabilities of some hobbyist at home with a PC.

However, it is not necessarily impossible for well funded criminal organizations to decrypt whatever they want. That was one of the points of my letter to the editor.
 

Tower7Troll

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This is an officer safety issue. There have been multiple attacks on offices due to people listening to scanners. The choice to go to Project 25 with DES-XL encryption was not one that was done on a whim. This was a long, calculated move, to protect Burlington's police force.

The Seven Days article is nothing but sensationalism media. .

Mutual-aid between agencies is a none issue. The agencies who work together can still communicate! Burlington officers have the ability to go "analog clear", and still communicate via the same radio. In fact, when a department that is analog-clear only calls to a BPD unit on their frequency, it comes across the radio just like it would normally. The BPD still hears them! This is called "mixed mode". In some cases, the officers don't have to switch out of the "open" form, because the radio will automatically do that for them if it's within a set period of time.

Also, most, if not all, agencies in Vermont have had their radios programmed with the VHF interoperability channels or UHF interoperability channels respectively. These channels are 100% clear, and allow for open communications between any government agency that is working at a long-duration, multiple-agency incident. All surrounding departments in Chittenden County have these channels in their radios, that is a fact.

As someone who works with the fine staff of BPD, SBPD, and other agencies on a daily basis, I find it ridiculous that there would be any uproar about something that would make their lifes and day to day operations safer. Obviously Seven Days didn't do their research, and only published what they thought would make a good news story. They've succeeded in getting peoples attention, but the lack of transparency about interoperability and the ability for open communication is absolutely 100% lacking in their article.

As Mr. NF2G highlighted, there is nothing available that will allow you to monitor a P25 DES-XL system "easily". If you have the computing power (which ninety-nine point nine repeating people do not) , it would still take you a very long time to break just one of the keys in use. Let me point out that the BPD and surrounding agencies have the ability to use "rolling keys" so that they can maintain secure capability in case a radio goes missing. The ability is also present to "kill" radios that are missing from the system.

I'm sorry, but the news media doesn't need to listen to every police event and then go there to get film rolling. I've seen many news crews escorted away from scenes that weren't completely safe, or get in the way because they've just "had to have a shot". I'm sorry, but it's a necessary evil. For an incident of any significance, the police, fire, or other agency will put out a press release to all news agencies that cover the area. Listening to scanners for breaking news is a thing of the passed.

A recent even where a local to Burlington news crew decided it would be okay to enter and film the premises after a fire occurred, once local responders had left. The building mentioned had severely damaging structural deficiencies as a result of a fire that grew without early notification. A portion of the interior of the building had collapsed, and firefighters were pulled out from that section. The news crew openly walked in there to get additional film. Openly with them was a scanner. A great example of why they do not need to listen to everything that happens.

Any incident that is of significant public safety will be followed with a press conference and a press release as appropriate. If something is so significant that it requires mass notification, the media will be alerted through conventional means outside of the police department or fire department radios.

Listening to scanner traffic is not a right, it is a privilege. A privilege that gentlemen like Jim Lawrence take for granted. Jim's a great guy, I know him personally, but with that said, the only outcry about going digital with encryption would have been from the people who use scanners for their own gain in some form or another. Whether it be radio enthusiasts, or news media.

Officers in Burlington and South Burlington have been attacked by "thugs" with scanners before the changes took place. Leaving the main "broadcast channel" as it was called clear-analog wouldn't have increased officer safety. An officer isn't going to switch channels to get additional details in the heat of the moment. If he's under fire, or being attacked, he should be able to get that information out immediately, with the ability for his communication to be safe from other "thugs" listening to a handheld scanner down the street waiting for the right moment.
 

ecps92

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Are there any docuemented [news stories, on these attacks?]

Honestly as someone in Law Enforcement, this is just a chance for a dept to hide from public scrutiney. Your Day-to-Day operations do not need to be encrypted. Officers will be assaulted with encryption or with-out encryption. Better training or two man cruisers would be a more responsible answer.

This is an officer safety issue. There have been multiple attacks on offices due to people listening to scanners. The choice to go to Project 25 with DES-XL encryption was not one that was done on a whim. This was a long, calculated move, to protect Burlington's police force.

The Seven Days article is nothing but sensationalism media. .


Officers in Burlington and South Burlington have been attacked by "thugs" with scanners before the changes took place. Leaving the main "broadcast channel" as it was called clear-analog wouldn't have increased officer safety. An officer isn't going to switch channels to get additional details in the heat of the moment. If he's under fire, or being attacked, he should be able to get that information out immediately, with the ability for his communication to be safe from other "thugs" listening to a handheld scanner down the street waiting for the right moment.
 

ecps92

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Sounds like there is a disconnect between the Public Safety and the media, if they Cross the Yellow Tape and Fire Lines....

But, then, who left a fire bldg unattended and damaged w/o security until it was boarded up and secured :confused: which would allow not only the media with access, but any child or citizen :confused:

I'm sorry, but the news media doesn't need to listen to every police event and then go there to get film rolling. I've seen many news crews escorted away from scenes that weren't completely safe, or get in the way because they've just "had to have a shot". I'm sorry, but it's a necessary evil. For an incident of any significance, the police, fire, or other agency will put out a press release to all news agencies that cover the area. Listening to scanners for breaking news is a thing of the passed.

A recent even where a local to Burlington news crew decided it would be okay to enter and film the premises after a fire occurred, once local responders had left. The building mentioned had severely damaging structural deficiencies as a result of a fire that grew without early notification. A portion of the interior of the building had collapsed, and firefighters were pulled out from that section. The news crew openly walked in there to get additional film. Openly with them was a scanner. A great example of why they do not need to listen to everything that happens.

Any incident that is of significant public safety will be followed with a press conference and a press release as appropriate. If something is so significant that it requires mass notification, the media will be alerted through conventional means outside of the police department or fire department radios.

Listening to scanner traffic is not a right, it is a privilege. A privilege that gentlemen like Jim Lawrence take for granted. Jim's a great guy, I know him personally, but with that said, the only outcry about going digital with encryption would have been from the people who use scanners for their own gain in some form or another. Whether it be radio enthusiasts, or news media.
 
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DaveNF2G

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As some time has elapsed and nobody has seen my letter published, I will reproduce it here for those interested. This is what I wrote:

The encryption of Burlington police communications, along with the explanation given therefor, are prime examples of the need for evidence-based policymaking. The police chief claims that "teams of criminals [are] using police scanners and text messaging to anticipate and evade police."

To date, there is no published research anywhere that would validate this claim. Even the pre-SMS claim that criminals used police scanners routinely to evade police has never been proven.

Occasional incidents of scanners being found during searches are so rare as to have absolutely no statistical power.

Add to this the fact that modern police scanners are complex, that street criminals are not often literate and tech-savvy, and that (responsible) police do not discuss operational plans for raids over their agency channels, and the claim of highly sophisticated scanner use by criminals becomes laughable.

The most dangerous, best funded criminal enterprises - major drug cartels and terrorist networks - can afford to invest in decryption anyway. Locking out the public does nothing to protect them or the police against criminals.

If the police believe otherwise, show us your data.
 

kennyblues

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My "personal" opinion on this is the Media is more at fault for the Law Enforcement agencies going to encryption than the average scanner listener. There has been numerous instances of inaccurate, irresponsible reporting of incidence's over the years from the media's monitoring of the airwaves.
Another thing I fear is that the recent proliferation of scanner feeds becoming available over cell phones etc, (scanners for dummies) will continue to lead law enforcement agencies to continue on the path towards 100% encryption.
 

Tower7Troll

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I think the username says it all.
Nice response.

The username comes from a fire department where I was a live-in during the time I was going to school. Our truck company, AKA the Tower, was known as being the "TROLLS". If I was trolling, I would have simply said "Screw the scanner people, you don't need to listen to us" . Instead, I offered to go into a little more detail then was absolutely necessary for a basic reply. Furthermore, if I was "Trolling", don't you think I would have had a username that was created specifically just to piss you off? C'mon, cut me a break, this is ridiculous.

Incidents in Burlington and South Burlington have occurred that pushed the need for secure communications. The "day to day" operations of the detectives and other units are still clear-analog and will remain to be for some time. Having the ability to obscure officer locations and their status only further protects them. As someone who has the ability to listen to the digital encrypted steam from both SBPD and BPD, they aren't using it to take advantage of the public. Sensitive information, is one of the primary uses of them having the encryption.

For the gentleman that posted whom is involved in law enforcement, if your department had seen an increase of criminals using scanners or other communications tools to aid their crimes, you wouldn't look for a way to protect your own internal communications? Multiple officers in Burlington were attacked with the aid of scanners. "Booby traps" if you will. You don't see ANY increased safety with their solution?

With the amount of "easy" information on the internet, and online scanners, it's not hard for Joe Criminal to figure out how to use a scanner. Your average criminal isn't stupid... Lacking common sense, but not "stupid".
 

KE4ZNR

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If I was trolling, I would have simply said "Screw the scanner people, you don't need to listen to us" . .
Your initial post basically said that just in different words.
Your attitude is exactly the type of fear mongering that agencies use when they want to hide their communications and don't have a valid reason for doing so. No one has an issue with encrypting SWAT, Drugs & Vice, or other special operations channels. It is the day to day main dispatch channel in which accidents and other routine calls are monitored on that should remain open to the public and the media.
The concern is in the control of information flow. When the only source of info about the police department day to day operations is the dept itself then that is a problem. "Trust us, we will give you the info WE want you to have!". Do you not see a potential problem when the only oversight into the day to day operations is by the department itself?
I know I am speaking to a brick wall. You are over enthusiastic in locking everyone out of your walled garden. You have already painted anyone with a scanner a criminal. You have already decided that instead of working with the media you will lock them out and only give them the info you want them to have.
Enjoy your walled garden.
Marshall KE4ZNR
 
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ecps92

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Great block out the day-to-day Operations, but let us listen to the VICE, SWAT, Det's etc. Typical Backward move

Use Mobile Data terminals for your Secure messaging.

Amazing how many Departments still provide the audio feed over the Cable TV [community channel] I think more Drug Dealers have Cable TV installed, than those who own [stole] a Scanner

I still ask, 2nd time, where are the articles of assaults on Burlington Officers, that occured due to the suspect having a scanner.

:evil: Post the links :twisted:

Glad you were able to throw in the "I can Listen, but you Can't" line ;)

Nice response.


For the gentleman that posted whom is involved in law enforcement, if your department had seen an increase of criminals using scanners or other communications tools to aid their crimes, you wouldn't look for a way to protect your own internal communications? Multiple officers in Burlington were attacked with the aid of scanners. "Booby traps" if you will. You don't see ANY increased safety with their solution?
 
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DaveNF2G

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Furthermore, if I was "Trolling", don't you think I would have had a username that was created specifically just to piss you off? C'mon, cut me a break, this is ridiculous.
To the Internet you must be new, padawan. Yes, trolls do create usernames for that purpose. They get their responses, and thus their jollies, anyway.

Incidents in Burlington and South Burlington have occurred that pushed the need for secure communications.
What incidents? Where is your documentation? I am a researcher and scholar. I know for a fact that nobody has published any proof of this claim beyond anecdotes.
 
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DaveNF2G

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Well, I guess it was premature of me to post my letter here after all. Paula from Seven Days just called me to verify the letter. It should be in print on the 13th.
 

burner50

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Keep it on topic guys... I dont think the topic was about trolls.
 

mcdobson

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I am just surprised that a city with such a low crime rate would find it necessary. Burlington has very little crime as compared to many like sized communities.
I have enjoyed listening to my scanner in many larger cities, with very high rates of crime. Never a problem.
 
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