What to do now? Aus media can no longer scan the Police!

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David_See

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Hi all,

Australian (New South Wales) Police have just gone encrypted and us Media dudes downunder will no longer be able to listen to the most important information to our business of news-gathering. THis is the first time in my 20-year news gathering job that I have not been able to hear them. Very scary!!

So, what to do?

I understand the US has been encrypted for some time, so how did the media get around this terrible inconvenience?

Would be interested to know what the options are (for someone with an RS Pro-96 scanner). :)
 

hoser147

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Chances are with the encryption the Pro 96 will do nothing. As for you being with the media some cities here in the US like Cleveland Ohio, the paper met with the Police chief and came up with the solution of the paper having a radio on their system to monitor. The paper puts it out over the net so we can all enjoy, Im sure that they dont have access to all the talkgroups, but its stilll a great site to listen to. Good Luck Hoser
 
D

DaveNF2G

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First question - are you certain that the police have begun using encryption? Is it possible that they are just using a new type of radio system that they believe or advertise is unmonitorable?
 

Jay911

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Like Hoser said, one common practice with "encrypted" (or as Dave hinted at, systems that are treated as encrypted) systems is to sell/lease receive-only radios to the media outlets. The radios are purchased, programmed, and maintained by the police, and contain only the talkgroups/channels they want the media to be able to hear, but with transmit capability inhibited. That practice has been going on in my city since our digital trunk went into use in the 1990s.
 

AZScanner

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You know, it's a sad sad day when a seasoned 20 year veteran newshound is hampered by a little thing like the local coppers using encryption. Tsk, tsk.

I used to shoot news too. My specialty was meth lab raids. Yeah, you heard me right. Meth lab raids. Had the cops so freaking bewildered everytime I showed up they didn't know what to do. They were using nextels and couldn't believe how I would uncannily show up at their raids time and time again despite them using a totally unscannable radio system. I would just smile and say a little bird told me. They hated that.

But what they didn't realize was that I wasn't listening to them at all. You see whenever they busted a drug lab they'd call for a utility truck to respond to refill their air tanks, because they used standard issue FD breathing apparatus when tearing down the labs due to all the chemicals involved. So anytime I heard a utility truck going somewhere all by it's little lonesome, especially to refill some air tanks, I'd go check it out. If I saw a bunch of dudes in SWAT gear milling about, then bingo - I would pull over and grab the camera. I tell ya - it was like taking candy from a baby.

Now, think about this Mr. See... I'll ask you a riddle - what shows up everytime there's a shooting, a car wreck , a drug bust, etc BESIDES PD? An ambulance! Guess what - many ambo companies use alpha numeric pagers to send incidents to their wagons, including - you guessed it - what the incident IS! And, guess what's NOT illegal to monitor in Australia? Pagers.

I bet you'll find more than just the ambo companies using those pagers by the way. Here in the States (rumor has it anyway, wink wink nudge nudge) the cops use them quite a bit too. I bet your Aussie cops are no different. Read up on a little program out of the Netherlands called PDW. Fascinating little app - good for all sorts of nefarious uses.

Good luck!

-AZ
 

b7spectra

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Incident in Los Angeles where the officers beat the illegal immigrants - caught on film.
Incident is Philadelphia where the officers beat the suspected police killer - caught on film.
Incidents all over the world where the media heard what was going on and was able to film - now all of these police forces are encrypting their radio's "for the safety of the officers". Hmmm. Makes one wonder! Can't tell what's going on, media can't capture it on film.
 

SAR923

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Many of these incidents were captured by police car dash cams and bystanders who happened to have a video camera. No scanners involved. As has been mentioned, every city I'm aware of that uses full-time encryption, the press has worked a deal to buy receive only radios from the PD so the press will still have access to to the standard, non-sensitive talk groups like patrol. As has also been mentioned, some media even stream this over the internet so us regular folks can listen. The press can still listen to non-encrypted traffic that gives them a pretty good idea of what's going on anyway, as has also been mentioned.

Why has this anti-police, paranoid attitude towards encryption suddenly become so common here? I'd rather not see encryption either since it cuts into my hobby but it's not a deep, dark conspiracy.
 

David_See

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Australia does not have the luxury of being given - or sold - Police radios of any kind. That will never happen here.

What we have been lumped with as a compromise is a disastrous web-based system they call PEATS which lists all current jobs, but does not give job specifics. And only certain people in the main office can have access. They are not being made available to freelancers.

For instance, a shooting in a local casino came over the PEATS system as a "concern for welfare". To the media, this could mean a drug over-dose or domestic fight. Nothing newsworthy.
 

grant

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Or for the shooting late yesterday on Parramatta Rd between cops and car thieves during PM peakhour traffic at the entrance to the M4 motorway .... I don't believe there was any notice. (They closed off the worst intersection in Sydney for traffic at the worst time to do forensics etc). The media found out from people ringing into the local radio stations about the chaotic traffic. In fact I heard the news media in recent weeks actually asking TV viewers / radio listeners to phone in tipoffs about anything strange happening in their local area.

NSW Police in the Greater Sydney area (gSa) use DES-OFB encryption (but no OTAR yet). They do not loan any radios whatsoever to anybody who is not a sworn police officer. All radio traffic include mundane motor vehicle accidents is encrypted. They do not use pagers - the MDT system runs off the Telstra Next-G GSM Mobile telephone system. While there is a considerable amount of incident information available on say the GRN voice channels at the moment the long term tendency is for the Firies and Ambos to move data on jobs across to their MDT networks, rather than transmit it.

The police / politicians need to keep the media on-side here because once they turn on them, they can be quite a pain in the rear end.

Grant
 
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SCANdal

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Oh, boo hoo...

grant said:
The police / politicians need to keep the media on-side here because once they turn on them, they can be quite a pain in the rear end.
grant,

I've got a hot tip for you... the media's already turned on them - did quite a while ago.

I'm always surprised at these agencies that bend over backwards, after encrypting their systems, to now provide radios - either through a lease or purchase agreement - to the media outlets.

***
grant said:
In fact I heard the news media in recent weeks actually asking TV viewers / radio listeners to phone in tipoffs about anything strange happening in their local area.
It must be just me, and I admit that I am going back a ways here, but I recall a time when the media had to WORK to gather its news...not be spoon fed it like they are now by monitoring a scanner ("...Police Sources say that..."), calling the dispatch center or firehouse to see if they could pull some details out of the person on the other end, and slapping a story together based on that. What's gone wrong in the media world? Is it these "breaking news" paging services? It's shameful how the "if it bleeds, it leads" mentality has taken over local television news reportage. An example would be a one alarm fire in the middle of nowhere, Brooklyn. While it might and maybe should well be on the front page of the local weekly paper, an incident like that is now worthy of having five local TV news helicopters flying over it for three news segments. Why, I ask? In less then 24 hours that fire will be forgotten about by the vast majority of viewers.

Maybe, just maybe, this move to "encryption" might just force the media types to have to work a little harder at putting together news stories. If it means returning to the days of the streets being covered with foot reporters and cameramen (men like AZScanner above), then so be it. And NO, I'm not talking about buying people's cell phone vidoes - as an avid TV news watcher - the 5 o'clock, 5:30, 6, 6:30, 10, and 11 o'clock (which is part of the problem, FYI) editions - with the local 24 hour network sprinkled in in between - I find that most tipster provided videos generally suck.

I'll close with this. I remember a time when the news was put together with an eye toward doing the greater good. Keeping the honest honest and bring shame to those who deserve it. I don't know what it's like Down Under, but those days seem to be gone around here. Here's what passes for news today: a cute anchor (something that I do appreciate, admittedly), and filling the hour with enough fluff, the weather over and over (despite the fact that there is an entire network devoted to it), and the last third of the broadcast covering sports (again, despite that fact that there are mutliple networks devoted to that); we are living in an age of "having our bread and circuses" and sadly the news has become one of the circuses. Here's how pathetic is gotten... Here in New York City a scandal recently broke where the city council members used their "discretionary" funds to give grants to organizations that either didn't exist or who used the funds to funnel money back to the councilperson's campaign treasury, among other assorted improprieties. The practice has been going on - according to some reports - since 1988!. Imagine if a reporter was sitting in on the budget hearings and started to research whether or not a "Coalition for a Strong Special Education" actually existed or not. This story could have broke over a decade ago. Is the press going to keep hammering at this story to see if the budget reforms promised are going to actually be implemented? Are they going to follow-up to see if the reforms actually helped? Probably not. We've got reporters and news vans chasing around after cars that jumped a curb somewhere, where as I said above, aside from the poor victims in the car after it struck a building, who now have to recover, - in less then a day - that story won't matter to anyone else... the sidewalk will be reopened and pedestrians will be walking up and down it again as if nothing's happened.

SCANdal
 
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WX5JCH

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Hmm, we just ask the PD chief and he makes a call to the M dealer, who programs our radios transmit and all. No charge. got one on my desk now listening... But that's in Oklahoma, we have all worked together since our terror incident at the Murrah building. Other states are different
 

AZScanner

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David_See said:
Australia does not have the luxury of being given - or sold - Police radios of any kind. That will never happen here.

What we have been lumped with as a compromise is a disastrous web-based system they call PEATS which lists all current jobs, but does not give job specifics. And only certain people in the main office can have access. They are not being made available to freelancers.

For instance, a shooting in a local casino came over the PEATS system as a "concern for welfare". To the media, this could mean a drug over-dose or domestic fight. Nothing newsworthy.
I would still attempt to scan the pager freq's - you never know what folks might be chatting about on those things. Also, as a freelancer you know where the hotspots are. Hang out in one and follow the sounds of the sirens. Could be good, could be crap but if you can't monitor the only other thing you can be is eyes-on everything you can get to fast enough.

As for the other posters comments... as a former stringer/freelancer my response is WHO CARES? It's a marketplace. You offer what you know will sell. If I called the local newsdesk saying "I've got video of an interview with the county attorney's secretary who says she's been seeing him on the side" the response would likely be "thanks for the tip we'll check that out" - and why shouldn't they? They can do it themselves. But if I call them up and say "I've got video of that 3 alarm warehouse fire with huge flames and explosions" they will say "Bring it in!"

Why? Because while everyone SAYS they hate watching fires, accidents and police chases on TV News the truthiness of it (thank you Mr. Colbert) is that people WILL watch fires, accidents and police chases far more often then they will watch indepth interviews and investigational reports that take weeks or months to put together. So you can ***** about the news all you want to, but in reality the problem isn't them. It's US. They are simply offering what they know will sell. Just like I did when I was in the biz.

-AZ
 

jon_k

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SAR2401 said:
Why has this anti-police, paranoid attitude towards encryption suddenly become so common here? I'd rather not see encryption either since it cuts into my hobby but it's not a deep, dark conspiracy.
Transparency in a government is a good thing. The only channels that perhaps could benefit from encryption is "SWAT / Tactical" as obviously big crimes, organized crime, and crime that needs discrete action get coverage on such groups.

Also people think if the PD was doing great without encryption, and now they're suddenly putting a viel over the system, would indicate something has changed or a decision has been made to do so. Why spend time/money to close a system up if there's no purpose, and it comes with a huge price tag to upgrade?

I'm not too concerned. They probably want encryption "just because". It may be for no particular purpose, then again... if a Rodney King happens it will definitely be a pat-on-the-back to the radio shop. I'm seriously doubting thats their goal with encryption though (I hope not!)

When things get locked down, we'll just have to abandon the hobby or work on decrypting the radio (which may be illegal.) In the end, it doesn't matter.
 
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af5rn

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SCANdal said:
grant,

I've got a hot tip for you... the media's already turned on them - did quite a while ago.
LOL! Yeah, but to be fair, the cops turned on the media WAY before the media reciprocated.

I'm always surprised at these agencies that bend over backwards, after encrypting their systems, to now provide radios - either through a lease or purchase agreement - to the media outlets.
Many do it because they have administrators or liaisons who actually know the value of working WITH the media instead of against them. I'm surprised more agencies aren't smart enough to recognise that. But of course, there are other agencies that do it simply because the City Manager tells them to, in response to the realisation that fighting constant FOI requests and suits from the deep-pocket media would be a lot of work and money.


It must be just me, and I admit that I am going back a ways here, but I recall a time when the media had to WORK to gather its news...not be spoon fed it like they are now by monitoring a scanner ("...Police Sources say that..."), calling the dispatch center or firehouse to see if they could pull some details out of the person on the other end, and slapping a story together based on that. What's gone wrong in the media world? Is it these "breaking news" paging services? It's shameful how the "if it bleeds, it leads" mentality has taken over local television news reportage. An example would be a one alarm fire in the middle of nowhere, Brooklyn. While it might and maybe should well be on the front page of the local weekly paper, an incident like that is now worthy of having five local TV news helicopters flying over it for three news segments. Why, I ask? In less then 24 hours that fire will be forgotten about by the vast majority of viewers.
The media is not spoiled. The public is spoiled. They have 500 channels now and expect to know what is happening NOW, not what happened yesterday. It has nothing to do with the media. It simply the natural result of the instant-gratification society. Fast food. Rapid transit. Instant tax-refunds. Breaking news. There is really nothing mysterious about that.

Maybe, just maybe, this move to "encryption" might just force the media types to have to work a little harder at putting together news stories. If it means returning to the days of the streets being covered with foot reporters and cameramen (men like AZScanner above), then so be it.
First of all, they're not putting those stories together for their own entertainment. They are putting them together for YOUR information, because you have a right to know how your government is representing you and spending your money, as well as what is happening in your neighbourhood that you pay so dearly to live in. If nobody was watching or reading those stories, the media would dry up and go away overnight. The media does not exist in a vacuum. The media exists because YOU feed the demand.

Second, I'm pretty surprised that anybody who is a serious scannist would call listening to the scanner an "easy" way to gather news. I did it for ten years, and there is nothing easy about it. In fact, those of us who were consistently successful at doing it were the exception, not the rule. Picking the wheat from the chaff out of the thousands of public safety channels in metropolitan Dallas-Fort Worth, or any other urban centre is no easy task. In fact, it's the hardest part of news gathering. Getting that first tip that there is even a story to begin with is the key to it all.

I'll tell you the easy and lazy way to gather news. That is to sit back and depend on the government and the public to send you press releases all day long. I'm not sure where you get the idea that this is "the hard way", because it very definitely is not. And an over-reliance on that method results in inaccurate stories and a misinformed public. If you're happy just knowing what the government thinks you need to know, wonderful. But you'd be the first scannist I have ever met who felt that way. After all, knowledge is the main reason that most of us scan. And since we can't hear everything, everywhere, 24/7, we rely on the media to do that for us. I like how it works out.
 

richardc63

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grant said:
Or for the shooting late yesterday on Parramatta Rd between cops and car thieves during PM peakhour traffic at the entrance to the M4 motorway .... I don't believe there was any notice. (They closed off the worst intersection in Sydney for traffic at the worst time to do forensics etc). The media found out from people ringing into the local radio stations about the chaotic traffic. In fact I heard the news media in recent weeks actually asking TV viewers / radio listeners to phone in tipoffs about anything strange happening in their local area.

NSW Police in the Greater Sydney area (gSa) use DES-OFB encryption (but no OTAR yet). They do not loan any radios whatsoever to anybody who is not a sworn police officer. All radio traffic include mundane motor vehicle accidents is encrypted. They do not use pagers - the MDT system runs off the Telstra Next-G GSM Mobile telephone system. While there is a considerable amount of incident information available on say the GRN voice channels at the moment the long term tendency is for the Firies and Ambos to move data on jobs across to their MDT networks, rather than transmit it.

The police / politicians need to keep the media on-side here because once they turn on them, they can be quite a pain in the rear end.

Grant
Hi Grant,

I wouldn't want to be the politician (or Minister) that OKs giving a journo access to the encrypted network only to find out that the journo has passed on information to the bad guys... that has happened before. Think about some journos political leanings and issues such as Eveleigh Street. These radio networks are intended to be for the use of community safety and officer safety and NOT media liaison.

There have been that many cases in the past of major crimes being carried out by people carrying stolen radios that it is about time that the systems were updated to make it a lot harder for crims to steal suitable radios & have dishonest techs reprogram for them. OTAR needs to happen ASAP to put these turds out of business.

Cheers,


Richard
 

grant

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Richard

As you well know, the Sydney media, once they sniff blood, will play the man instead of the ball as many a politician can testify. If the journos loose faith in the PEATS system, then you know from historical precedent, the resulting coverage will go negative.

One only has to look at the influence of the media in the downfall of a previous Police Commissioner (Peter Ryan) , the influence of the media in the leadup and coverage of the Cronulla Riots and even the reaction of the police to the Chaser APEC 2007 stunt. And many media folk haven't forgotten the "over-the-top" reaction from police during APEC particularly the female photographer


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZLkC3D_bnE

The NSW Police are still smarting after this famous Stunt
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VAPLpHyBrlg&feature=related
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Chaser_APEC_pranks

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2005_Cronulla_riots

Remember it was the Daily Telegraph who blew the story on those missing radios - not the Police Media Unit. Unless the cops institute OTAR all the crooks have to do is pinch a radio every time they change the keys.

http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/story/0,22049,22842844-5001021,00.html

Grant

PS I don't work for the media.
 
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jon_k

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richardc63 said:
There have been that many cases in the past of major crimes being carried out by people carrying stolen radios that it is about time that the systems were updated to make it a lot harder for crims to steal suitable radios & have dishonest techs reprogram for them. OTAR needs to happen ASAP to put these turds out of business.
Indeed there are many cases in which criminals have abused radios and scanning. I would like to ask a question though. Why are you here? :lol: I ask as your post seems to advocate encrypting these networks, while maybe good -- it will destroy our hobby.

Without municipalities to scan, we'd be reduced to listening to the school district busses when a child acts up and gets a warning, and hearing the meat packing plant radio that the freezer door in the frozen chicken section won't shut again, can Ernie from maintenence come to fix it.

You say encryption needs to happen ASAP to put scanners out of business, but yet the post appears on forum revolving around scanning, so it seems strange and out of place. I just wanted to know what part you play in the hobby of scanning?
 
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AZScanner

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af5rn said:
Second, I'm pretty surprised that anybody who is a serious scannist would call listening to the scanner an "easy" way to gather news. I did it for ten years, and there is nothing easy about it. In fact, those of us who were consistently successful at doing it were the exception, not the rule. Picking the wheat from the chaff out of the thousands of public safety channels in metropolitan Dallas-Fort Worth, or any other urban centre is no easy task. In fact, it's the hardest part of news gathering. Getting that first tip that there is even a story to begin with is the key to it all.
Naah. It really wasn't that hard to find a story. Maybe it was because Phoenix is nuts to begin with - all those people with baked brains from the desert heat perhaps. But there was almost always something going on. The hardest part was not monitoring the scanner, it was learning all the good jump spots to take off from so you'd be able to get to a scene before it was over. After that, I simply segregated the scanner banks into regional groups - West, North, South & East. Depending on the spot, that's where I listened. Who cares what's going on in Mesa when I'm hanging out in West Phoenix? Let the other stringers chase their tails and waste their gas, get it? It worked well for me - most weekends I ran from scene to scene to scene - sometimes up to 4 stories in one 6 hour "shift".

I've considered saving up for another rig (camera, etc) and making a go of it again. Trouble is, there's no way I could match the income from my current 9 to 5 with gas prices the way they are, plus I've got one more child to provide for now than I did back then. Sigh. Maybe I'll make it a hobby or something I do just for fun. I do miss doing it.

-AZ
 

richardc63

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jon_k said:
Indeed there are many cases in which criminals have abused radios and scanning. I would like to ask a question though. Why are you here? :lol: I ask as your post seems to advocate encrypting these networks, while maybe good -- it will destroy our hobby.

Without municipalities to scan, we'd be reduced to listening to the school district busses when a child acts up and gets a warning, and hearing the meat packing plant radio that the freezer door in the frozen chicken section won't shut again, can Ernie from maintenence come to fix it.

You say encryption needs to happen ASAP to put scanners out of business, but yet the post appears on forum revolving around scanning, so it seems strange and out of place. I just wanted to know what part you play in the hobby of scanning?
JonK,

This isn't a scanning forum- this subject is in the Australian section covering all things radio and not just scanning. Many of us on Radioreference have absolutely nothing to do with scanning and have other radio interests- such as radio system technology, amateur radio etc.

I work in the radio industry so have absolutely no interest in scanning- I listen to radios for the better part of 40 hours a week and that is enough... And yes encryption does need to happen ASAP as the only people I care about are the ones who risk their lives trying to keep us safe- not those who use the radios against them (which they currently can do).

Regards,

Richard
 
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