Law enforcement radio encryption draws backlash (Washington)

Pushback from the public regarding the encryption of law enforcement radio traffic has led to discussions about the decision, though it’s not likely that those channels will go back to being clear any time soon.

Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency completed a switch to an all-digital radio system in June, which among other things involved the encryption of all law enforcement channels for agencies that use CRESA for dispatch services.

The Law Enforcement Council of Clark and Skamania Counties made the decision to encrypt law enforcement channels, citing officer safety as the chief concern that led to it. Members of the public have spoken out about the decision, citing transparency among other concerns.

One local amateur radio enthusiast, Ryan Todd, sent a letter to different local government officials last week listing reasons why full encryption was a bad idea in his mind. Apart from having some police operations available for the public to monitor, managing the keys needed to access the encrypted channels can become costly, the letter read, and in the case of departments that do not have the encryption, the relay of communication could be delayed, compromising the usefulness of the system.

 

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