- Posted August 29, 2012 by
Central Florida Law Enforcement’s Abuse Of Radio Encryption On Routine Dispatch Channels...New Suit Alleges Orange Sheriff Demings Dummied Down Crime Stats.
Question: What possesses a law enforcement agency to utilize radio encryption on a routine radio channel? Note that I did not write “tactical channel”, i.e. SWAT or Surveillance. I am referring to routine dispatch transmissions that could ALERT the general public of impending danger, such as a natural disaster or a catastrophic weather event, such as a hurricane, which is a common occurrence in Florida.
The simple answer is Central Florida Law Enforcement’s hatred towards the news media. Yes, the news media that we rely on to bring us Real Time “Breaking News”. You may ask yourself, why does law enforcement not have a working relationship with the news media? as the overall benefit is to serve and benefit the public. This article will encompass a 5 year study of why Central Florida Law Enforcement Agencies have chosen to encrypt routine “non tactical” talkgroups/radio channels and this action’s direct affect on the public.
On June 18, 2012, the Orange County Florida Sheriff’s Office shared with me in a teleconference that I nor anyone would not be given any further access to monitoring their radio system. Note: that this was after the agency moved to full-time radio encryption, 45 days previous. Also, I waited to speak with the agency about this issue for six months, in conjunction with the fact that increased pressure was placed upon the Agency by my local Orange County Commissioner to speak to me. Last, before the move to encryption, I had monitored the agency’s radio transmissions daily, for 18 years.
My requests included:
1. I am a citizen of Orange County Florida, have no criminal record and wish to purchase my own ($6K) MOTOROLA APX7000 Handheld Radio, for the expressed purpose of listening to (1) Non-Tactical Dispatch Talkgroup, known as SECTOR 4, for the purpose of feeling safe in my home.
2. A non-encrypted rebroadcast (with a 7 minute delay to promote officer safety) of routine (non-tactical) dispatch talkgroups, on their new MOTOROLA 800 Mhz. X2-TDMA Digital Radio System, so that citizens and the news media (who now have no radio monitoring access) may be informed of criminal activity.
3. A Computer Aided Dispatch System (Online) with Call Times, Showing All Major Incidents Including Violent Crimes, for citizens to be knowledgeable of crimes which affect their lives.
In that 30 minute teleconference, ALL of my requests were immediately DENIED by the Radio Communications Commander of The Orange County Florida Sheriff’s Office.
What concerns me the most about the current Orange County Sheriff’s CAD is that is is missing a great deal of emergent calls (I know this from having monitored the radio system for 18 years) which directly affects the safety of the citizens of Orange County. It’s one thing to “Scrub” criminal information before disseminating it to both the news media and public alike…but it’s an extremely concerning issue when a law enforcement agency chooses to omit criminal information from the CAD all together.
In August Of 2012, The Orlando Sentinel published a news story about the Orange County Sheriff:
Now, it all makes sense…
If the Sheriff was in fact hiding inaccuracies in crime statistics, he certainly would not want anyone, including the news media to listen to his radio system.
I have invested 18 months of my time in attempting to work with both the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and the more specifically the Mayor and the Orange County Board of County Commissioners, who approved $25M in funds to pay for the new Orange County Radio System. My local Orange County Commissioner, after attempting to speak to the Sheriff on my behalf over the last several months, has indicated that he can do nothing more to help me in this matter. Both the Mayor and my County Commissioner have stated that the Sheriff is a Constitutional Officer and makes all decisions regarding his agency. He may be, but the Orange County Board Of County Commissioners should have known the Sheriff’s plans for encrypting the radio system and worked with our County Emergency Management Team to ensure that citizens had access to dispatch radio transmissions by radio scanner, in the event of a disaster.
On September 3, 2012, I plan to take my concerns to the Office of The Governor Of Florida to ask that this case be further investigated.
Apparently, a similar problem is occuring in Allentown Pennsylvania:
If you share my view of “Transparency Within Local Government” and believe that you should have the right to listen to your local Public Safety Radio System’s Routine Dispatch Channels, please LIKE this page and share your viewpoints.