Emergency agencies begin turning OFF radio encryption in bid to ‘improve transparency



Rockford police and Winnebago County Sheriff need to read the information below.

MANY agencies are turning OFF their encryption. 

Rickie Traeger From Rockford Scanner Doing A Phone Interview With Joseph Erik Mattern with C.A.R.E. (Citizens Against Radio Encryption) on July 20th 2016

# http://matternmedia.com/care/
# https://www.facebook.com/radioscanning

Links To The News Articles Mentioned:
# http://urgentcomm.com/p25/panel-p25-encryption-not-everyone
# http://www.wftv.com/news/local/no-charges-opd-officer-accused-hitting-homeless-ma/271004352

Source: AP: Emergency agencies begin turning OFF radio encryption in bid to ‘improve transparency

  • Police and fire departments are bucking a trend to conceal comms
  • Say they want communications to be more open and transparent 
  • Encryption can sometimes hamper rescue efforts with multiple agencies


Some police and fire departments are bucking a trend to conceal dispatch communications from the public, acknowledging that radio encryption has the potential to backfire and put first responders in danger.

Agencies with digital radio systems have turned off the encryption to their main dispatching channels and others have decided not to turn it on.

They say their officers and firefighters may not be heard during emergencies by responders at neighboring departments with radio systems that either don’t have access to their encrypted channels or aren’t advanced enough to have encryption capability.

Officials also say they are addressing concerns from critics who argue encryption decreases police transparency at a time when it is needed, especially in the wake of shootings of unarmed black people by police officers.

‘The overwhelming opinion of encryption is that it works great for preplanned tactical environments like SWAT teams staging a situation,’ said Eddie Reyes, deputy chief of Amtrak police and chairman of the International Association of Chiefs of Police communications and technology committee.

‘But for day-to-day operations where officers are going across borders in emergency pursuits or foot pursuits, that’s where it tends to break down,’ he said.

‘A good number of agencies are still operating on antiquated systems and would not have the ability to accept encryption.’

When Reyes was working for Arlington, Virginia, police in 2006, he said, an officer who fatally shot a teenager outside a restaurant inadvertently switched over to encryption mode on his portable radio.

There was temporary chaos on the radio when officers en route couldn’t communicate with the officer in the shooting because their radios weren’t in encryption mode, Reyes said.

A slow trend continues toward encryption, which has been around for years.

It hides communications from public airwaves by modifying voice signals with coded algorithms, preventing people from listening via radio scanners, the internet and cellphone apps.

Only people with encryption ‘keys,’ the information needed to access the encrypted channels, can listen.

Open government advocates say the practice withholds crucial information about emergency situations from the public.

Concerns also have been raised by news organizations, which say it cuts off journalists who monitor public safety broadcasts from being alerted to major events

Police officials say they’re worried about the safety of their officers, because criminals have been known to track officers’ movements by listening to police communications.

They also say they want to prevent the public broadcasting of people’s personal information, including medical histories and juveniles’ names.

They further cite violence against officers around the country over the past few months and the response to the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013, when people listening to police communications posted misleading and inaccurate information on social media.

Among police departments that have recently encrypted all communications are those in Anchorage, Alaska; Riverside, California; Manchester, New Hampshire; and Newtown, Connecticut.

‘What happened this summer really culminated in making the decision,’ Newtown Police Chief James Viadero said, referring to violence against police. ‘I had a legitimate concern for my officers.’

Other departments are taking the opposite approach.

Police in New Orleans; Spokane, Washington; and other cities have vowed not to encrypt their main dispatch channels. Others that had encrypted their communications have turned it off.

Police in Mansfield, Massachusetts, turned off their encryption more than a year ago after officers expressed concern they couldn’t talk with counterparts in some neighboring towns, Police Chief Ronald Sellon said.

Mansfield is home to the 20,000-seat Xfinity Center outdoor amphitheather, and there were worries about communications with other agencies if there was a mass casualty event at the theater.

Last year, Washington, D.C., officials switched off the encryption for fire communications.

The move came after firefighters had problems using their radios in a subway tunnel during an emergency response.

The tunnel filled with smoke because of an electrical malfunction, killing one person and sickening dozens more.

The Metro transit agency, which had a radio system in the subway that allowed below-ground communications by city firefighters, said the radio problems were the result of the fire department changing its own radio system, including adding encryption, without telling the transit agency.

City officials denied encryption caused the problems.

Police in Naugatuck, Connecticut, like many departments, are keeping their main dispatch channel open to the public while maintaining encrypted channels to use during tactical operations.

Naugatuck Police Chief Christopher Edson cited the need to be able to communicate with other emergency responders, as well as the expense of encryption, which can cost several hundred dollars per radio to implement. Another issue was not wanting to block out the public, he said.

‘We also want to be transparent,’ he said, ‘during this particular climate in the country.’

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3831886/Now-hear-Emergency-agencies-turn-radio-encryption.html

Pedestrian hit by a vehicle in Machesney Park


Around 8:23 PM several emergency personnel were dispatched to the area of Superior in Machesney Park, scanner traffic, said a pedestrian was hit by a vehicle near this location. At the time the dispatch injuries were being reported. It is not yet known on the severity of the injuries. This is still developing. Several emergency personnel are en route.


Citizen Detains Alleged Burglary Suspect, Medical Dispatched To Scene



Around 9:16 pm several emergency personnel were dispatched to the 600 block of Marie in Machesney Park.  A suspect was caught allegedly breaking into a vehicle. The citizens detained the alleged suspect until police arrived on scene. They requested an ambulance to the scene, unknown why. Sounds like the suspect and the citizen detaining them got into a fight, but not confirmed.
RS Fan said this might be domestic related.



Serious Hit & Run To A Pedestrian In Rockford




Rockford Scanner fans called police to report the vehicle near Trevor Circle.  Police came to investigate the vehicle, and said it was the vehicle involved in the accident.

Thanks to Rockford Scanner fans, they were able to locate the vehicle and develop suspect information.

Rockford Scanner fan said the vehicle was parked near Trevor Circle shortly after the accident and still had blood on it.

On September 9, 2016 at approximately 9:50 pm, members of the Rockford Police Department responded to the area of 2000 Kishwaukee Street after receiving calls of a crash involving a pedestrian who was laying in the roadway. Officers arrived to find evidence of a crash and a 67-year-old victim, Richard Walker, from Rockford who was later pronounced deceased on-scene.
Rockford Police Department Traffic Investigators conducted a follow-up investigation into this incident and reviewed the results with the Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s Office who issued a warrant for:
Kellen M. Odems, B/M, 29, Rockford, IL
Charge: Aggravated leaving the scene of an accident involving death
Bond: $150,000

Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Kellen M. Odems is encouraged to call the Traffic Investigations Unit at 779-500-6461 or Crimestoppers 815-963-7867.
This is an active investigation. No further information is available for release at this time. Additional information will be released as it becomes available.





A statement from the assisted living building the victim lived in:

It is with a very heavy heart that I am able to confirm that one of our residents was involved in a fatal accident, which occurred while he was away from his home at Rockford Supportive Living, Friday night.

Our senior community is mourning the loss of one of its beloved members. I ask for privacy and respect during this time of mourning for his neighbors and friends, as well as our caring and devoted staff at Rockford Supportive living, who are missing him greatly. Our deepest condolences to his family and all affected by this tragic loss.

I would like to take this time to publicly thank all of the first responders of our city, as well as the RPD and Winnebago County Coroner’s office, for their incredible caring and efficient staff.

Renee Sidebottom, Director of Nursing and Acting Executive Director, Rockford Supportive Living


On September 9th., 2016, at approximately 9:50 PM., the Rockford Police Department responded to Kishwaukee St. and New Milford Avenue for a serious traffic crash.  Upon arrival officers located a deceased subject at the scene.  The preliminary investigation indicates a subject riding in a wheelchair was struck in the 2100  block of Kishwaukee St. by a vehicle.  This subject became entangled in the vehicle and was dragged for several blocks until becoming dislodged at New Milford Ave.  The subject was pronounced deceased at the scene and his identity is not being released at this time.  The offending vehicle fled the scene south on Kishwaukee St. and at the time of this release it is being described as a silver passenger car.

At the time of this release no additional details were available.  As the investigation continues more information will be made available.

Several Rockford Scanner fans contacted us and said there are a lot of police on Kishwaukee near the Harrison area. Several have said there was a hit and run to a pedestrian. No suspect information. they said the victim has life threatening injuries.

Rockford police are encrypted, so no information from the police. 

UPDATE: The police only released this info:

On 09-09-16, at approximately 9:50 PM the Rockford Police Department responded to the 1600 block of Kishwaukee St. for a serious traffic crash.  Upon arrival officers found an accident scene that went from the 1600 block down to the 2600 block.  As a result of this Kishwaukee St. will be closed for the next several hours from the 1600 block down to the 2600 block.  Motorists are asked to avoid the area for the remainder of the evening.