Police Worry Criminals Use Smartphones To Monitor Radio Traffic

By Carlton Purvis

Blanton says RadioReference has strict rules that bar broadcasting law enforcement sensitive information and that the site has never been asked by an agency to stop broadcasting a feed.

“A good bit of those feeds are actually provided by some of those departments themselves. There are actually departments out there that want to have their communications online and available to the public,” Blanton said.

In Windsor, Virginia last September a suspect managed to stay a step ahead of police by using a portable police scanner during burglaries. For a period of time police relied on cell phones instead while investigating suspicious activity calls. District of Columbia Police believe drug dealers at a laundromat fled after an officer used his radio to call for backup, suggesting that they were listening in, the Associated Press reported.

Now police departments nationwide are working to encrypt radio transmissions, a move journalists and hobbyists say impedes the flow of public information.

photo by Tripp/flickr


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