For the record, it’s mostly bad.

At the beginning of October a South DaCola foot soldier informs me that the SFPD and Rapid City PD would be encrypting ALL police radio traffic on scanners. This was one of my better sources who is usually spot on with city hall tidbits. I do a little research on my own and found this has been a trend across the country and has been abused by some local government entities so badly states like California have been passing additional legislation that stops them from encrypting all calls.

I was getting nowhere with others in local government to verify this was the case (the council was likely left in the dark on this decision). I passed it on to a trusted local journalist but they were unable to put a story together before the SFPD made an announcement yesterday. I have been openly talking to people about the encryption over the past couple of weeks seeing if anyone knew more, so I am sure that made it up the chain of command that others in town were talking about it and unlike the dead animal blowup, they better announce this before the media does.

While the mayor has the right and the duty according to charter to manage the police department, the city council has the power to create policy and ordinances that the SFPD must enforce.

In other words, the mayor has the right to direct the SFPD to do this, and the council is powerless in directly managing the police department, but they CAN create an ordinance that pulls back the encryption guidelines. They would likely have to do this in coordination with the Lincoln and Minnehaha County Commissions.

I know, a big lift, but I do think there are some councilors and commissioners that would be willing to sponsor such legislation.

Originally created by the FEDS, the encryption is allowed for many reasons, mostly for sensitive medical situations or sting operations, but many local governments decided to just encrypt all calls, mostly out of laziness and in the name of closed government.

Called Project 25, it has been an effort for switching police radios from analog to digital which basically makes encrypting as easy as pressing a button, so the argument that it is just easier to encrypt ALL calls is about as pathetic and lazy as you can get.

I do understand that there are probably many reasons you would want to encrypt a police call, as I mentioned above, but like most new technologies, criminals will be ahead of the curve, and keeping valuable information from the general public so you can catch a couple of bad guys just doesn’t cut it for me.

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” – Ben Franklin

This is about keeping information from the media and the public and little else and just another example of the slow (fast) degradation of open government in Sioux Falls. While I don’t need to know if Gladys Johnson fell down in her shower on North Duluth Avenue, it would be nice to know when a man-made disaster is happening in real time.

I have a feeling the ACLU or a similar civil liberties organization will be challenging this decision, but it is sticky.

At first glance, I think SF and RC have the legal authority to do this, BUT like most open government laws in our state, it gives local governments wide authority to abuse their power.

Unless the counties, the cities involved and the state change laws and ordinances, it looks like next month we will experience radio silence.

I wonder if they are also encrypting the tornado sirens?

14 Thoughts on “The Good and Bad of police radio encryption

  1. Fear & Loathing in Sioux Falls on November 4, 2023 at 11:20 am said:

    I couldn’t help but notice that Tea Storm Chaser’s stock has been collapsing since word of this got out. Hopefully, there will be more tornadoes for them to cover next year. I guess for now, they will just have to survive on Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

  2. Further Fear & Loathing on November 4, 2023 at 11:25 am said:

    What we don’t know, won’t hurt us….. I already feel safer in this town.

    But then again, what about the police and especially ambulance sirens, can we still chase them? Or, will there be too many pursuing attorneys in the way?

  3. D@ily Spin on November 4, 2023 at 3:44 pm said:

    What’s troublesome is there’s no police recordings used as evidence in court proceedings. News reporters can’t know there’s something to report. Combine this with no body cameras and police become a bigger problem than crime itself. It’s looking like everyone must leave the house packing? New reasoning for DEFUND THE POLICE?

  4. Furthering the Fuhrer & More on November 5, 2023 at 12:39 am said:

    No civics, no gymnastics, gags placed on profs, super precincts, money is free speech, no reproductive rights, Chick-fil-A addictions, UAPs but no UFOs, driverless cars, drought stricken, a chaotic House, and now this, it’s just all a part of a plot to control us. While Mary Jane is becoming more readily available and guns have never had more rights. I believe the MJ, however, is just meant to tune us out so that we won’t care about our guns anymore…. Then they will really control us…. and then even our dear Mary Jane…. #PuffTheMagicDragon

  5. losing our rights on November 5, 2023 at 11:52 am said:

    Remember the Tutthill ghost that scared the Sioux Falls cop causing him to shoot the winter night air? Remember the ghost ambulance #980 pretending to be sent to dying people? We all learned of these and other malfeasance of Sioux Falls when we could monitor the 911 traffic. Looks like Sioux Falls transparency corp is working hard hiding behind Get & Go sucking down their free big gulps. Why should they be bothered actually being accountable to the public who is paying them?

    Our public owned governments are being stripped from us by the developers and despot officeholders who found a way to suck more of our tax dollars from us to their pockets. Wake up sheeple before we lose any of the remaining morsels of our democracy.

  6. D@ily Spin on November 5, 2023 at 1:34 pm said:

    When there’s a need for private decryption, city government has become worthy of federal attention. Sioux Falls has incrimination Blogs but now needs Hacker Code Enforcers. What should be public becomes another free speech infringement. It’s not just for police communication. What else are they hiding? Developer/mayor side deals? We must know when a Charter Revolutionary is being whacked.

  7. Who do you think you’re fooling? Your “liberty hat” was firmly up you ass during Covid.

  8. Wearing a mask while I am buying Twinkies at a privately owned grocer doesn’t limit my liberty and if you think it does you are obviously eating Twinkies with crack in them.

  9. Virginia on November 6, 2023 at 10:35 am said:

    I have better things to do than listen to the scanner. About time it’s encrypted. Anyone who’s upset needs to get a life and make a difference in someone else’s.

  10. You had 0 problems with government mandates on wearing masks and giving shots. That’s not Liberty. Again, you’re a self centered hypocrite.

    If you’re access to state radio traffic is the line in the sand to your liberty, you are Trump sized immature.

  11. Virginia, you know, I don’t fault the fella who doesn’t care about open government either way, but when people like yourself openly defend closed government I gotta wonder what is in the kool-aid you are drinking?

  12. Archie Bunkerramp on November 6, 2023 at 7:30 pm said:

    If you take away the scanner, then all a retiree really has is the Weather Channel. Well, except for Uber Eats when that sexy young woman delivers.

  13. LJL, I never had a mandate to get a vaccine, I also didn’t have a mandate to wear a mask, IT WAS A CHOICE! And I am still not sure how comparing vaccines (which have saved millions of people) and mask wearing to police radios? Not sure how vaccines and masks became political? Oh I know, the orange nightmare, who makes putting on his lip gloss and foundation a political event.

    Police radio communication has been around since the 1930’s. So you are telling me in over the past 90 years NO ONE thought it was a good idea to encrypt? Police safety is paid for by the taxpayers. We have a right to know what they are doing within reason.

    Let’s be clear, I support the Federal encryption guidelines, which basically says they have the power to delay or encrypt depending on the situation and guidelines. The SFPD can do this on a case by case basis depending on those guidelines. In fact, I told someone today, take it out of the hands of the officers, and put Metro 911 in charge of encrypting the calls so the officers don’t have to worry about it.

  14. My Mistake Mike on November 7, 2023 at 8:24 am said:

    There used to be an understanding between journalists and law enforcement not to report scanner traffic without independent confirmation. Amateurs like Tea Storm Chasers screwed it up now for everyone. I’m a First Amendment guy, but I understand the other side of this argument when folks like TSC post info straight from the scanner and jeopardize the safety of law enforcement and the general public.

    I recall a classic faux pax from KDLT in the 1990’s. Anchorman Ben Boyette reports on a semi rollover on the cloverleaf at I-90 & I-229. Meantime there was a second, minor accident across town involving a truck load of turkeys. Boyette conflated the two accidents from the scanner and with his folksy sense of humor declared on the first accident “the only fatalities were a few untimely roast turkeys.” Unfortunately, the driver of the first truck died in that accident. Oops.

Post Navigation