Hugh Pickens writes writes "Police departments around the country are moving to shield their radio communications from the public as cheap, user-friendly technology has made it easy for anyone to use handheld devices to keep tabs on officers responding to crimes and although law enforcement officials say they want to keep criminals from using officers' internal chatter to evade them, journalists and neighborhood watchdogs say open communications ensures that the public receives information as quickly as possible that can be vital to their safety. 'Whereas listeners used to be tied to stationary scanners, new technology has allowed people — and especially criminals — to listen to police communications on a smartphone from anywhere,' says DC Police Chief Cathy Lanier who says that a group of burglars who police believe were following radio communications on their smartphones pulled off more than a dozen crimes before ultimately being arrested. But encryption also makes it harder for neighboring jurisdictions to communicate in times of emergency. 'The 9/11 commission concluded America's number one vulnerability during the attacks was the lack of interoperability communications,' writes Vernon Herron, 'I spoke to several first responders who were concerned that their efforts to respond and assist at the Pentagon after the attacks were hampered by the lack of interoperability with neighboring jurisdictions.'"
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