Linn County Law Enforcement Radio Communications to be Encrypted
Sometime in mid-July, all Linn County law enforcement radio communications will be encrypted, which means that the public will no longer be able to monitor most law enforcement scanner traffic. The safety of law enforcement and enhanced safety of the public and property are the primary reasons for encrypting radio traffic.
Public safety communications channels streamed across the Internet or openly broadcast give the public, media, criminals, and potential terrorists immediate access to crucial public safety information. There is an overriding need to protect critical public safety communications from compromise, so that information cannot be used to hinder emergency response, impede investigation and surveillance, or endanger the public.
The decision to encrypt all police radio traffic is consistent with a nationwide trend by the other law enforcement agencies and is recommended by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security because encryption is vital to national security and mission integrity.
Key reasons for encryption include:
- Safety of personnel and enhanced safety of the public and property is the primary reason that law enforcement is encrypting its radio traffic.
- Tactical/investigative information that is broadcast may jeopardize law enforcement operations and impede active investigations and surveillance.
- Law enforcement is required to protect personally identifiable information including protected health privacy information.
- Disaster incident information broadcast that may reduce reaction abilities of public safety officials.
- Uniform encryption is the best way for officers and other emergency responders to not miss critical radio traffic if there was a need to switch between encrypted and non-encrypted channels.
Summary: The best way to attempt to protect sensitive information and to ensure that public safety personnel and operations are protected from unwanted disclosure is to encrypt the radio traffic. Encryption provides the assurance that this sensitive information can be reasonably safe from unwanted use.