As part of a growing trend, the Richmond area joint police radio frequencies will be encrypted beginning July 2nd, the chief law enforcement officers of Chesterfield, Henrico, and Richmond jointly announced on Monday.
Once this change occurs, law enforcement radio transmissions will only be able to be monitored by authorized public safety personnel.
The letter, signed by Chesterfield County Chief Jeffrey Katz, Henrico County Chief Humberto Cardounel, Jr., and City of Richmond Chief Alfred Durham say the reason for encrypting the radio channels is twofold.
“The first reason is to promote the safety of first responders and community members by ensuring that the dissemination of in-progress tactics and activities during high-risk events is limited to those whose mission is to resolve events swiftly and with minimal risk to those involved,” the letter states. “The second reason is to ensure that sensitive personal information being communicated to resolve an event does not violate legal rights or reasonable expectations of privacy.”
Critics of police radio encryption say it limits the public’s ability to monitor police activity and creates more obstacles for members of the media, who often monitor the radio frequencies to get real-time information on incidents as they unfold. Proponents for the initiative say the move will protect those on the force and prevent would-be criminals to know where police activity is taking place.
The letter goes on to say that each agency will work with members of the media and the public to share information and keep both parties informed.
“Though each agency’s approach may vary somewhat, the objective of each is to work with you and support you as you fulfill your mission,” the letter goes on to say. “In the near future, our public information officers will be communicating with you about how our respective agencies will be enhancing the ways we will share information.”