Sheriffs Dispatch, or not??

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johnvassel

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Okay, looking for a few opinions and thoughts on dispatching public safety info. Primarily Sheriff dispatch channel.
The county I stream recently had a chase and search for two subjects accused of stealing a car. During this event (I was out of town) I was messaged and asked to discontinue dispatch streaming because information had come about saying the suspects were using a phone app to hear the police departments attempts to apprehend them. As soon as possible (10 mins or so) I had the stream shut down, as I work with many of these officers at times and didn't want to have them hurt or miss a chance to catch these fellows.

Afterwards, I received word through a good friend that the officers were quite pissed that their information was being streamed to phones. I was offered the option of not carrying dispatch for awhile, as it was felt things needed to 'die down' a bit.

Now, I know.. I was 100% in my right legally. Only sheriffs dispatch is streamed, and the stream was shut down the moment I was notified. (There was a delay, through emails and having to remote access the stream.) But, I also respect the deputies, and the job they do. Being in my field, it's important we have a working friendly relationship. They at this point have no idea it was I streaming it, but it wouldn't take a rocket scientist to figure it out. I'm not worried about 'official' retaliation, these guys are true professionals. I'm also not even concerned about hazing or the such, again, they are true professionals. But it did raise a concern with me as to whether to broadcast the sheriffs dispatch info.

I know all the arguments on why I can. I guess I'm looking for arguments why I 'should'. Sure, they could (and should) move channels when dealing with sensitive issues. But then, getting every officer to switch to another frequency can be tricky, and dangerous if not all go to the same freq at the same time.

I don't know. At this moment my stream is offline. I've been a scanner enthusiast for 40 or more years, but until these years, it always involved what "I" heard, with my equipment. I never had to worry about me being responsible for what the idiots may do with information.

Thanks...
 

rdale

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The only thing I'll add is what I do with Facebook/Twitter posts about breaking incidents... If it's a fire-related event I'll add the applicable RR stream link to the post. If it's police-related, I won't.

I've been asked to add some PD to my stream, and looking at the numbers doing so dramatically increases my listenership, but I won't. I won't object to those who do saying "that's wrong" but I just wouldn't myself.

On the good side - because of this event there will hopefully be some modifications to the existing scanner law in order to take out the specific phrases regarding police scanners. Under the current law, these perps cannot have additional charges added in for their app usage. That may be changing...
 

KJ6HCB

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For what its worth, I discontinued my local PD feed... felt it was best. The feed is now City and County FD, County EMS Dispatch and Area CHP.
 

johnvassel

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The only thing I'll add is what I do with Facebook/Twitter posts about breaking incidents... If it's a fire-related event I'll add the applicable RR stream link to the post. If it's police-related, I won't.

I've been asked to add some PD to my stream, and looking at the numbers doing so dramatically increases my listenership, but I won't. I won't object to those who do saying "that's wrong" but I just wouldn't myself.

On the good side - because of this event there will hopefully be some modifications to the existing scanner law in order to take out the specific phrases regarding police scanners. Under the current law, these perps cannot have additional charges added in for their app usage. That may be changing...
And i won't even ask for mention in the new law!! lol.
I'm quite surprised I was the first one to bring it up, but think it's needed. Might also give some comfort to the officers involved in dealing with informed criminals.
As I've sat back and done some thinking tonight, I'm leaning towards taking Sheriff dispatch offline. Just looking into an option to stream it privately, as it's much easier than carrying a scanner everywhere.

Thanks for the thoughts guys, this really is a serious matter for me. I know these deputies, I've been knee deep in crappy situations with some of them, and when it hit me I could be causing them more work or harm it bothers me.
 

jack3726

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What would have happened if you were not at home to discontinue the feed put it offline when this was going on. For those that are using apps to monitor PD, couldn't you say the same about someone monitoring the FD. The sad part about streaming is that if you really view it as a hobby it is a hobbyists dream. To anyone else doing things to break the law, etc it's a sore spot.
 

rdale

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What would have happened if you were not at home to discontinue the feed put it offline when this was going on.
Actually the event ended just as he turned it off, but on the good side the K9 unit doesn't really care if the perp knows the police points ;) Had they not had a K9 it could have been a problem.

For those that are using apps to monitor PD, couldn't you say the same about someone monitoring the FD.
No, because listening to FD can't help those breaking the law.
 

Skud

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What would have happened if you were not at home to discontinue the feed put it offline when this was going on. For those that are using apps to monitor PD, couldn't you say the same about someone monitoring the FD. The sad part about streaming is that if you really view it as a hobby it is a hobbyists dream. To anyone else doing things to break the law, etc it's a sore spot.
If they really wanted to hear them they could have bought a scanner so taking the feed down really doesn't make much difference. If they want to listen they will find a way.
 

tgentry

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I find that most crooks will not spend 200 to 300 dollars for a scanner. I too am at the point of thinking about removing the Sheriffs dispatch from my feed. I emailed one of our Captains on the Sheriff's department and asked him his opinion. He stated as long as it was just the dispatch channel, he didn't see anything wrong with it. I got to thinking though when one of our units gets into a situation, be it a police chase, burglary in progress, robbery etc. Dispatch will 10-3 (All other units take traffic to TAC) the net. When that happens then obviously you are only hearing the officers involved on what ever situation they are in. This would benefit the perp if they are listening in via Phone. I know there is sometimes a delay but sometimes it isn't enough of a delay to make a difference. I will probably remove the Sheriff Feeds and just broadcast the Fire Department feed as well. I'm still trying to decide.
 

rdale

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If they really wanted to hear them they could have bought a scanner so taking the feed down really doesn't make much difference.
As noted above, you're completely wrong. They were using a cellphone app, so having the feed up actually did help. They used the feed to listen in on point locations where the deputies were setting up, so a 30-60 second delay wouldn't have changed the value of that knowledge.
 

Skud

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As noted above, you're completely wrong. They were using a cellphone app, so having the feed up actually did help. They used the feed to listen in on point locations where the deputies were setting up, so a 30-60 second delay wouldn't have changed the value of that knowledge.
No I am not completely wrong. I was stating that even if they could not get it from the app because someone took it down or did not broadcast it, they could have bought a scanner to listen to it regardless. That is what I was saying.

Would be nice to have an iphone or android app that I could take my feed down for cases like this in case I am not home and to update my feed for breaking news.
 

rdale

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I was stating that even if they could not get it from the app because someone took it down or did not broadcast it, they could have bought a scanner to listen to it regardless.
That's true. Where you were wrong is in saying that taking the feed down wouldn't have made a difference. Since they didn't use a scanner, it would have made a difference.
 

Skud

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That's true. Where you were wrong is in saying that taking the feed down wouldn't have made a difference. Since they didn't use a scanner, it would have made a difference.
Please re read my post. I did not say it would not have made a difference, I said by taking the feed down it really doesn't make much difference because of scanners because they could have bought one. I did not say it would not have made a difference.
 

rdale

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Okay, I get your point. I still disagree. Countless more people will pay $1 for a scanner app versus $300 for a scanner. Fundamentals of economics. Look at the stream counts, and you'll see...
 

drdispatch

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Here's my 2 cents worth (and the check is in the mail); :roll:

If a bad guy using a scanner commits a felony, & then uses it to evade police, & ends up getting caught, he can be charged with the use of a scanner in the commission of a felony, just like if he used a gun; that is a separate charge in addition to the original felony. If the law isn't clear enough to include phone apps & internet feeds, then perhaps it should be changed.

That said, when the above occurs, do we prosecute the person &/or business that sold the bad guy the gun/scanner/i-Phone app? Only if criminal intent can be proved. And intent, criminal or otherwise, is difficult to prove. ("I never meant for it to be used that way - I didn't know he was going to use that gun/scanner/i-Phone app to rob a bank....") Since the majority of people use guns, scanners, & i-Phone apps for lawful, legitimate purposes........ In other words, blame the criminal, not the tools he used or the people who made & marketed them in a legal manner.

Again, just my 2 cents worth.
 
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rdale

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Dr - I've been in touch with Senator Jones (former sheriff in the same county this incident occurred) and he is interested in changing the law to remove the specific references to a radio in it so these events can be prosecuted in the future.

But reading the rest of your post, I think you misunderstood John's purpose. Nobody is blaming him for aiding the crime in any way (legal or not.)
 

drdispatch

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Dr - I've been in touch with Senator Jones (former sheriff in the same county this incident occurred) and he is interested in changing the law to remove the specific references to a radio in it so these events can be prosecuted in the future.

But reading the rest of your post, I think you misunderstood John's purpose. Nobody is blaming him for aiding the crime in any way (legal or not.)
It's great that we have someone in Lansing that's willing to take a look at that & close a loophole.

I understand his situation, & I wasn't under the impression that he was being blamed, nor was I implying that he SHOULD be blamed; I was just trying to add some context in that he shouldn't feel guilty (maybe not the right word to use in this instance) about providing the feed, any more than a liquor store owner should feel guilty about drunk drivers. All I was saying was blame the person(s) who committed the crime, not the tools they used or the providers of said tools.

And these guys might not have shelled out $300 - $500 for a scanner, but they could always break into a house & steal one.
 
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kirk5056

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I see this whole thing as the end of our hobby if it continues. I am a retired cop and never cared if people were listening, I just made sure I was careful with what I said. But the was long before cell phone apps where any one, with no notice, can listen.

At dinner with my in laws in Indy last weekend I watched my otherwise uninterested son-in-law turn on his phone "scanner" with blue lights went by. This made me think that the phone apps that I enjoy could be a problem.

I agree that a determined criminal could buy or steal a scanner. But even if mine was stolen I doubt that many could figure out my programing and use it with any ease. With quick keys, start up keys and labels that only I seem to understand (according to friends), then the thief would have a hard time even turning on any area he may be in.

HOWEVER: if police cell phone scanners continue then more and more police departments will feel the need to encrypt or move to un-scannable systems. If we want our hobby to survive we need to discourage the police phone and internet scanner feeds.
 

slash

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On the good side - because of this event there will hopefully be some modifications to the existing scanner law in order to take out the specific phrases regarding police scanners. Under the current law, these perps cannot have additional charges added in for their app usage. That may be changing...
Actually, I discontinued my very popular feed because of legal issues surrounding the law, mainly because I could theoretically be charged with aiding and abetting a criminal. Even providing a live feed for a fire department could still aid an arsonist.

The Michigan scanner law specifically states that "in the commission or attempted commission of a crime a radio receiving set that will receive signals sent on a frequency assigned by the federal communications commission of the United States for police or other law enforcement, fire fighting, emergency medical, federal, state, or local corrections, or homeland security purposes".

Cell phones for all intents and purposes are radio receiving sets. The law makes no clarification as to how the frequencies end up on the phone It doesn't say specifically how it receives signals (it doesn't say that the radio receiving set has to pick up the actual frequency in the 154-155 mhz or whatever frequency range), except to say that if you can hear it, and you are using a radio of some sort to commit a crime, it's illegal. An even more broad interpretation could be applied to any device that uses WiFi. Judges are not computer or technology literate, and it wouldn't take much for any of the feed broadcasters to become a test case by a prosecutor representing a very angry police department. Those guys who used their cell phones to listen on a RadioReference feed were in my opinion still breaking the law. Unfortunately the prosecutor has no clue as to what constitutes a radio.


Now that you have gotten a technology and constitutionally illiterate Rick Jones involved (bad idea :mad:), pretty soon if a policeman shows up at your door for something as simple as a loud music complaint, if he sees a computer or any internet connected device that theoretically could be used to receive a scanner feed broadcasted on this site, it could be confiscated and searched. Congratulations, you made a bad situation worse, and ultimately there's nothing that will stop this from being passed into law with one-party majorities that rarely question each other.

So long as this website exists, and so long as it's legal to broadcast live scanner radio feeds of public safety/fire departments over the internet with little delay, this is the nature of the beast that will be created.

RadioReference does NOT care for a minute whether it's a legal gray area or not. In addition, owner Lindsay Blanton has repeatedly said in feed broadcaster forum posts that having delayed broadcast feeds is not an option, and has told broadcasters that if they don't want to broadcast live, to take their feed elsewhere. Radioreference most likely will not pay for your legal representation, they are after the money. They even stopped the generous scanner purchases and reduced the rewards for broadcasters who bring them in large amounts of listeners/subscribers/ad revenue for very publiciczed breaking news events. They rake in the profits and put all the liability and risk on to the feed providers. When the police come knocking, they won't be going after RadioReference, they will be going after the broadcaster, as was in this case.

Worse yet, since when you broadcast your feed it goes to servers that cross state lines, you are not only subject to state law but also federal law. If you think breaking state laws are bad, the federal system is a completely different animal. I will not ruin my life being a test case, or end up in Guantanamo Bay and tortured without charges for aiding and abetting a supposed "terrorist".
 
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mike_s104

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Actually, I discontinued my very popular feed because of legal issues surrounding the law, mainly because I could theoretically be charged with aiding and abetting a criminal. Even providing a live feed for a fire department could still aid an arsonist.

The Michigan scanner law specifically states that "in the commission or attempted commission of a crime a radio receiving set that will receive signals sent on a frequency assigned by the federal communications commission of the United States for police or other law enforcement, fire fighting, emergency medical, federal, state, or local corrections, or homeland security purposes".

Cell phones for all intents and purposes are radio receiving sets. The law makes no stipulation as to how the frequencies end up on the phone It doesn't say specifically how it receives signals (it doesn't say that the radio receiving set has to pick up the actual frequency in the 154-155 mhz or whatever frequency range), except to say that if you can hear it, and you are using a radio of some sort to commit a crime, it's illegal. An even more broad interpretation could be applied to any device that uses WiFi. Judges are not computer or technology literate, and it wouldn't take much for any of the feed broadcasters to become a test case by a prosecutor representing a very angry police department. Those guys who used their cell phones to listen on a RadioReference feed were in my opinion still breaking the law. Unfortunately the prosecutor has no clue as to what constitutes a radio.


Now that you have gotten a technology and constitutionally illiterate Rick Jones involved (bad idea :mad:), pretty soon if a policeman shows up at your door for something as simple as a loud music complaint, if he sees a computer or any internet connected device that theoretically could be used to receive a scanner feed, it could be confiscated and searched. Congratulations, you made a bad situation worse, and ultimately there's nothing that will stop this from being passed into law.

RadioReference does NOT care for a minute whether it's a legal gray area or not. In addition, owner Lindsay Blanton has repeatedly said in feed broadcaster forum posts that having delayed broadcast feeds is not an option, and has told broadcasters that if they don't want to broadcast live, to take their feed elsewhere. Radioreference most likely will not pay for your legal representation, they are after the money. They even stopped the generous scanner purchases and reduced the rewards for broadcasters who bring them in large amounts of listeners for very publiciczed breaking news events. They rake in the profits from ad revenue and subscriptions and put all the liability and risk on to the feed providers.

Worse yet, since when you broadcast your feed it goes to servers that cross state lines, you are not only subject to state law but also federal law. If you think breaking state laws are bad, the federal system is a completely different animal. I will not ruin my life being a test case, or end up in Guantanamo Bay and tortured without charges for aiding and abetting a supposed "terrorist".
Well said. Some of your reasons stated are the same I don't provide a stream. Plus, I don't want anything on my conscious.

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