As police agencies in the tri-city area settle into new digital radio systems, many departments have made, or are considering making, those communications secret, saying it is a response to a growing propensity of listeners to interfere with operations.
After spending $7 million on upgrades to comply with a federal 2013 deadline to switch police radio communications from analog to digital, Pasadena encrypted its main frequency, blocking access to outsiders. Listening in on police radio transmissions is a technique media organizations have used for decades to stay on top of breaking public safety events. It's also a technique, police say, that criminals use to their advantage.
The Burbank Police Department, which has also switched to digital, is considering encrypting a few additional channels after noticing more people getting in the way of field operations or emergency responses, Lt. John Dilibert said.
While it's not a top priority for the department, the people are “doing enough to become distracting to the officer or even fire personnel or paramedics,” he said.