Upgrade encrypts channels on police scanners

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark.(KTHV) - Those who listen to emergency radio scanners might have noticed only static coming from all the central Arkansas scanner channels.

It's a change North Little Rock police say they made earlier this year.

Sargent Brian Dedrick with North Little Rock Police says they converted their old analog radio to an encrypted digital one.

"The old system is getting very old and hard to replace parts, also it was analog and this new system is a completely digital system."

The Little Rock Police Department is finalizing the process to switch their analog frequency to the same system this week.

Dedrick says the reason for the move to encrypted channels is that the current channels are readily available to "bad guys" who monitor radio traffic.

"The problem with the public hearing everything, it is an officer safety issue. So many people knew exactly what we're doing all day."

There is no federal law or state law that requires law enforcement to allow citizens and news organizations access to the transmissions.

But it is raising questions from the public. Dedrick says it was all or nothing when it came to encrypting the scanner traffic.

"We want the public to be informed and we want to be transparent with the public and especially the media and so that's caused us some difficulties trying to balance making sure we get out the information."

Police say they chose officer safety over the public's want to know

"There's a big disadvantage for us. Somebody that we may potentially going to arrest knows that we're coming to their residence. They may leave, they may do something else."

The Little Rock Police released this statement:

"We recognize that many law-abiding citizens monitor police frequencies to educate themselves about their surroundings. However, the safety of our officers and the protection of our citizens is paramount. "


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