Washington DC- DCFD Plan to Encrypt Radios Leads to Concerns

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SCPD

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I agree if a agency plans to encrypt it would be wise to have a regional plan for all to hear and communicate but at a flick of a switch if need be. I don't understand how hard it is to train users of you need secure comms this purple button will do and get familiar with clear tx tones. If they do they do but can't complain when another agency holds off mutual aiding. Seen it go both ways with this kind of thing. I am for safety of personnel but I do believe sometimes there is ways to work together before jumping a gun and sealing yourself off. It surprises me none of those departments were offered gear to interop on a decent level after flipping the switch or offer those agencies keys to key use channels for interop. I agree also with way it's going it'll be a worse deal then the 9/11 comms were. In that end I wouldn't doubt if they'd push for the universal mega cost roll out of the 700 mhz network utilizing aes otap otar to solve interop problems. I also feel fireground should never be itself trunked, Digital, or encoded.
 

jim202

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Can someone say this is part of the results from a wine and dine by a selected radio vendor?

Sounds like a normal move by some slick sales force group to fatten their bank account.

Prove me wrong.

Ask those responsible for this decision just what motivated this move. Let the rest of the world know what you find out. Put those that made this move on the public forum. Let the voters know just where this suddenly came from.

This is not a decision that should have been made without a joint consent of those other agencies that could be effected also. Sounds like the adjacent agencies were caught out in the dark on this move. Be interesting just what comes out of this. My bet is no more mutual aid for the D. of C.
 

Hooligan

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I assure you, it is very hard to train users of a radio system know the difference between whats sensitive/protected information & what is not. It's even harder for them to remember that in a stressful situation. That's why many agencies wanting crypto either use it full-time, or set certain channels that the field units might be assigned to to full-time encryption.


It seems like what DCFD is planning on doing is encrypting their organic talk-groups, but the mutual-aid talk groups, which in theory the outside agencies providing mutual aid with DCFD should already have & use as part of the mutual aid ops plans & training, etc. should already have anyway.
 

JamesO

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DCFD is trying to be non transparent.

History of issues within the department and I think they figure it is another way to protect their internal issues from outsiders.

There is actually a lot of good that comes from open comms and people having the ability to monitor what is going on. As mentioned for mutual aid and for other departments to monitor what is going on in the area.

I recall 9/11 and being able to get an real time idea about a lot of what was going on and where not to go in the area.
 

ASTRO2001

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There is a big thing the could happened. DCFD has a big event or some small house fire then with 70+ radios firefighter using a fire ground channel one to two radios KEY FAIL (Encryption loss) They are SOL because they can't here orders coming from fire command or chiefs. You don't see the F.D.N.Y going this route. I can see the POLICE going this way but Fire Dept. What ever happened to the 9/11 Commission saying we need to have INTEROPERABILITY with each other . So question I have is the DCPD and DCFD going to share there Encryption Key with each other. I can see if something did happened and police and fireman. They will have a commission to the radio problems and they say well the DCPD has there own KEY and DCFD has a different key that's why they couldn't talk to one another. They will later say well what can we do to have them talk to one another?????????????
 

JamesO

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Yes, management and administration is not a strong point of an DC agency, even the ones that people from every state vote for but have offices located in DC! Just think about key management, deployment and just plain operator error. Maybe keys can be deployed OTA, buy management of encryption adds a whole new level of issue onto the day to day things that are required.

Do not forget ALL the other agencies in DC that likely interop or at least may want to monitor the DCFD for situational awareness.

This is a partial list as I am just pulling this from immediate memory I am forgetting many agencies. DCPD, US Park, Capital Police, Federal Protective Service, Secrete Service, Arlington County, PG County, Montgomery County, Alexandria City, WMATA, WMAA and so forth. Remember DC owns the water in their area to the opposite shorelines.

As usual likely technical/operational decisions being made by non technical/operational management and/or committee because someone had egg on face and now that Encryption may be a no or low cost feature they figure it is the way to look better in the press.
 

garys

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DCFD is trying to be non transparent.

History of issues within the department and I think they figure it is another way to protect their internal issues from outsiders.

There is actually a lot of good that comes from open comms and people having the ability to monitor what is going on. As mentioned for mutual aid and for other departments to monitor what is going on in the area.

I recall 9/11 and being able to get an real time idea about a lot of what was going on and where not to go in the area.
I keep saying that this forum needs a like button. DC FEMS has a long history of screw ups, especially on the EMS side. Encrypted radio helps to hide that.
 

JamesO

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Nothing against the guys on the front line, most of them want to do their job, be safe, help others. If someone on the front line is screwing up, they need feedback and help with corrective action. We all make mistakes, but if the front line staff is having issue because of people further up the chain, this needs to be addressed and addressed quickly as everyone's safety and well being could be compromised.

It just seems like a lot of the issues are further up the chain and if you have nothing to hide and open comms does not compromise your staffs or others safety and security, why is it needed.
 

blantonl

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key quote:

"It is a plan that has officials in Montgomery, Arlington and Prince George's counties deeply concerned. In fact, one department is warning it may not send mutual aid to the city if the plan goes through."
 

MTS2000des

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key quote:

"It is a plan that has officials in Montgomery, Arlington and Prince George's counties deeply concerned. In fact, one department is warning it may not send mutual aid to the city if the plan goes through."
and this is the ONLY valid argument against widespread use of encryption, especially proprietary software based encryption such as Motorola's ADP, that can be made.
 

gesucks

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Can someone say this is part of the results from a wine and dine by a selected radio vendor?

Sounds like a normal move by some slick sales force group to fatten their bank account.

Prove me wrong.

Ask those responsible for this decision just what motivated this move. Let the rest of the world know what you find out. Put those that made this move on the public forum. Let the voters know just where this suddenly came from.

This is not a decision that should have been made without a joint consent of those other agencies that could be effected also. Sounds like the adjacent agencies were caught out in the dark on this move. Be interesting just what comes out of this. My bet is no more mutual aid for the D. of C.
Has zero to do with any move by any radio vendor. To be very clear, this was not a decision by the DCFD or it's members. This was an order by the Mayor and Deputy Mayor for Public Safety. The FD had no choice in the matter. DO NOT BLAME THE FD.
 

pepsima1

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Look at this angle... Since LE is all moving in the direction of secure comms then why not the fire departments next.

After everybody locks down their comms then Broadcastify will go away. That's what we are all wishing for anyways. What a good concept after the scanner industry collapses too. The writing is clearly all over the walls. Its just a slow process. That's why everybody is so on edge on this site because of poor decisions and no action to the people collecting the green cash and not doing anything to fix this death spiral.

Just like the founder of "Grove Enterprises" said. This industry is a slow dying death. He killed his website and moved on with life.

Good Luck people
 

Forts

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There is a big thing the could happened. DCFD has a big event or some small house fire then with 70+ radios firefighter using a fire ground channel one to two radios KEY FAIL (Encryption loss) They are SOL because they can't here orders coming from fire command or chiefs.
A radio having a problem with it's encryption is no different than any other sort of radio failure. I've been on the fireground many times, and have experienced all sorts of failures from analog HT750's/1250's etc. You simply grab another radio. Sure it's another point of failure that could happen, but it's not a show stopper. Plus, I don't think radios 'losing keys' happens nearly as often as it used to.
 

Jay911

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The problems with DCFD did not start with encryption and will not end there. This is just another crazy thing the executive can do to make people shake their heads.

There's plenty of information on the web about the problems within DC's fire service. A very good chief was ousted from the department and a very poor chief was put in his place (poor-performing, I mean, not financially burdened). This chief made insane decisions for years and has been at the helm for all the ruinous things that have befallen DCFD. He decreed that the department was never to be called DCFD again, that it was DC Fire & EMS Services. Fire officers were suspended for wearing uniforms with the "old logo" (with the verboten DCFD acronym) even though the department refused to purchase new outfits for the crews. Countless other problems occurred, including the death of a man across the street from a firehouse which did not respond to walk-in requests for help. He re-instituted policies and programs that were questionable and ended those which were popular. He ordered firefighters to perform crime patrols of the neighborhoods because police couldn't handle their workload. All this was done with the backing of the deputy mayor. Witch hunts were put on for people suspected of going against the chief executive.

This chief that was vilified by almost everyone except his bosses retired/resigned recently. Shortly thereafter, there was an audit of apparatus (trucks) in the DCFD fleet. Seven out of seventeen ladder trucks have been put out of service for failing their inspections. There's a long history of broken apparatus that is reminiscent of the gong show in Detroit too.

Encryption is just a way for this particular executive to cover up their mess. They're closing the barn door after the horses have not only left, but disappeared over the horizon and possibly died of old age.
 

JamesO

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Jay, you just touched on some of the obvious issues, sad but true. I feel for the Rank & File in this case.

I am 2 miles from the DC line and this is a close as I would ever want to get. I would never want to live in a place that you had to rely on 911, PD, FD, EMS, Water, Trash, Snow Removal and Road Repairs were always under funded, under staff and/or poorly managed. Somehow the property values in some parts of the city are not impacted by all of this.

If you ever sent you kids to public schools, you send them to private schools after Elementary school. 6 years of expensive schools before college! Well at least DC residents get in state college tuition rates in 50 states!

Not worth the $$$ or headaches for me any my family.
 

JoeyC

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People here get too emotional about topics with "encryption" in the title. The scanner listeners because they won't be able to listen anymore, and the RR/Broadcastify staff and contributors because they hold a little guilt inside even though they will tell you otherwise.

The officials from neighboring jurisdictions commenting likely haven't gotten the facts of the plan, and likely were just quoted when the reporter asked a generic question with the "E" word.

And everyone ignores and downplays facts, such as this paragraph from the original article:

A spokesperson for Quander, Keith St. Clair, said the deputy mayor was not available to comment and instead sent this statement: “I have been told that the mutual aid channels that are used are unencrypted and the agencies from jurisdiction would have continue (sic) to have access to those and our dispatch even if tactical channels are encrypted.

1. FEMS would NOT move its dispatch calls to encrypted channels; they would remain available to the public and media. Only tactical channels would be encrypted.

2. That in mutual-aid situations where DC FEMS is working an incident that involves fire personnel from other jurisdictions, the tactical channels that are used are able to be heard by all the agencies involved.”
What is the real problem here?
 

gesucks

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People here get too emotional about topics with "encryption" in the title. The scanner listeners because they won't be able to listen anymore, and the RR/Broadcastify staff and contributors because they hold a little guilt inside even though they will tell you otherwise.

The officials from neighboring jurisdictions commenting likely haven't gotten the facts of the plan, and likely were just quoted when the reporter asked a generic question with the "E" word.

NOT TRUE

And everyone ignores and downplays facts, such as this paragraph from the original article:

What is the real problem here?
The article is way off and the Deputy Mayor knows about as much what is true with radio comms in the FD as he does about the current temp on the dark side of the moon.
 
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