The Glendale Police Department in California has announced plans to encrypt its emergency radio frequency, effective October 2. This change will prevent the public from listening in on police communications, which are currently unencrypted and accessible through commercial radio scanners and online scanner apps.
The decision to encrypt the radio signal is driven concerns about officers’ safety and the potential for criminals to exploit the unencrypted communication. It also aims to comply with a 2020 order from the California Department of Justice, which requires law enforcement agencies to use encrypted signals or alternative communication methods when discussing sensitive or private information, such as Social Security numbers.
Although the order does not mandate complete encryption of radio signals from the public, the Glendale Police Department has chosen to take this approach. In contrast, the Palo Alto Police Department removed encryption from its emergency radio signal in 2022 and updated its policy to provide more options for conveying sensitive information.
The decision to encrypt police radio communication has faced opposition from transparency advocates and citizens across the country. State Senator Josh Becker previously introduced legislation that would require law enforcement agencies to allow accredited media access to encrypted radio communications. Although this bill did not advance, it aimed to increase accountability and facilitate media reporting on public safety activities.
The Glendale Police Department acknowledges concerns regarding transparency but asserts that no practical solution was found to meet the California DOJ requirement. Instead, the department encourages community members to access crime information through their website’s live service log, which describes the nature of emergency calls and their time and is updated every 30 minutes. Important law enforcement activity updates can also be found on the department’s social media pages.
In conclusion, the Glendale Police Department’s decision to encrypt its emergency radio frequency aims to enhance officer safety and comply with state regulations. However, this change restricts public access to police communications, prompting discussions about transparency and accountability in law enforcement practices.
– Encrypt: To convert data or information into a coded form to prevent unauthorized access.
– Radio frequency: The range of frequencies used for radio communication.
– Encryption: The process of encoding information or data in a way that only authorized parties can access it.
– Glendale Police Department
– California Department of Justice