Reconsider Alternatives To A Fully Encrypted Radio System For Salinas Police

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Statement from Monterey County Sheriff's Office Commander Joe Moses

"There are some rights that the public has to be able to hear what we are saying on our primary channel."

Reasons to Not Encrypt Police Communication

› 1st Amendment
› Government transparency
› Citizens & media oversight
› To allow citizens & off-duty public safety personnel to respond to emergencies
› Backup & neighboring police officers receive delayed information
› Inhibits the media’s ability to accurately report news in real time & inform citizens

I'm writing this to let you know my thoughts on the new digital encryption that SPD has started using. First let me say that I value the safety of our law enforcement officers in the highest degree. I have friends that are in Law Enforcement and it is important that they get home to their families everyday. With that said, I am an administrator on Crime Watch (Salinas, CA) on Facebook and the encryption has certainly changed and even hampered the way we get the information to our forum members. I believe that these forums and pages provide a service to our community and our forum members that is vital to public safety. Many of the members of the forums use for instance Crime Watch as their sole source for first responder information.

I'm also concerned about public oversight and transparency within SPD. Considering the Department of Justice report and the ugliness that occurred a couple of years ago, it would seem that transparency would be at the top of the list to help heal the city. Ears on the SPD is a good thing because as we have listened to the police transmissions, we have been able to validate much of what was going on to many of the nay sayers and anti police folks that comment on the forums, basically supporting our men and women in law enforcement.

With the focus on community policing, police and the community have to work together to help police the city. When agencies that provide basic police coverage to neighborhoods encrypt 100% of their radio traffic, it locks the citizens out of being part of the process of knowing what is occurring in their neighborhood and of being able to assist the police. It erodes faith and confidence in the police force.

Here's a few of my ideas for the digital encryption:

1. Set up a channel with a 3-5 minute time delay. Obviously that would protect the officers element of surprise because we would be listening to something that has already happened.

2. Give access to encryption to certain groups that provide a community service (Media, Crime & Neighborhood Watch Groups) with stipulations and guidelines on how to use the information. Due to the sensitivity of the information there would probably have to be some kind of a background check in place for that to occur.

3. Daily/Completed instant Crime Log
Similar to either the CHP or MCSO where a lot is put out of crimes committed during the day. This could include 10-3 events that the CHP does for accidents on the freeway. We still get informed about what's going on.

4. SPD provide information to a reputable application like CrimeReports or MyPD. For those that don't know, PD's submit information of their choosing to the CrimeReports or MyPD servers to notify the community of the happenings in that area.

5. To leave regular dispatch unecrypted, and to encrypt all other channels.

As a tax payer and member of the City of Salinas, I believe it is my right to know what is going on with our police dept. I know the system is new, but the complete radio silence now raises some concerns for many citizens that I have spoken with about this. There should be some compromise and policy on this. 

As a tax payer that helped fund this switch to a digital system that I fully support, I do not support a fully encrypted police communication.



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