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Old March 27th 07, 11:10 PM posted to rec.radio.scanner
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Default Public has almost no access to new police radios

Abilene Reporter News

Public has almost no access to new police radios


By Blanca Cantu /
March 27, 2007

A new police and fire communications system designed to help emergency
crews stay in touch also means the news media has less access to
information about incidents affecting the public.

Abilene police and fire departments recently ditched an 18-year-old
dispatch system for a new $14 million system that has better
encryption capabilities and keeps many of the conversations people
using police scanners are accustomed to hearing off the air. Police
and fire officials began using the new system this month.

New radios purchased by the Reporter-News, KTXS-TV, KRBC-TV and KTAB-
TV that can pick up transmissions from the new system were programmed
by the city's communication services department. Abilene media can
listen to a police and fire dispatch channel and eight tactical fire
channels.

Before the city upgraded its communication system, the media and the
public could hear police and dispatchers chatter on multiple channels.
Now, the media has limited access - but the public has almost none.
Traditional police scanners cannot pick up transmissions on the new
system, meaning it must rely more on the media to report police and
fire news at a time when less information is available to the media on
police radios.

Jim Berry, assistant chief of the Abilene Police Department, said the
media no longer has access to the police service channels because the
department decided ''it's best for operations.'' Service channels are
used when officers in the field ask dispatchers to make a call for
them or check a license plate number.

Berry said the media's inaccessibility to the service channels helps
the department comply with an agreement the department has with the
Texas Department of Public Safety.

Information transmitted over the service channel can contain
information extracted from DPS' Texas Law Enforcement
Telecommunication system - and that is not public information, he
said.

''As a law enforcement officer, I cannot provide you with any
information that comes out of the TLET system,'' Berry said. ''Due to
the nature of police operations, there is information and
communications that you should not have access to.''

Berry, representatives of the fire department and the media met last
year to discuss radio accessibility. Berry said in the interest of
maintaining a good relationship with the media, the police department
granted the media access to the primary dispatch channel for patrol.

''We felt like that would meet your needs,'' Berry said. The agreement
was more than media in Wichita Falls initially received (see below).

At last year's meeting in Abilene, Scott Martin, chief photographer
for KTXS, said he asked for more access. But his request was denied.

News director Iain Munro said KTXS would like to have access to all
channels so that his staff can hear everything and judge things more
clearly.

''The last thing we want to do is get in the way of the police force
doing their job,'' Munro said.

The news station's photographers were concerned they wouldn't hear
certain things, he said. Not hearing chatter over the scanner forces
more calls to dispatchers, further tying up the lines of
communication.

''We want to be able to cover the story and do it so we're not
interfering with the police officers' jobs,'' Munro said.

Tom Vodak, news director for KRBC and KTAB, said the change in access
to police and fire communications hasn't affected the stations' news
coverage.

Is there a basis for complaints?

Joe Larsen, board member of the Freedom of Information Foundation of
Texas, said media outlets can't argue for more access to police
chatter on the basis of the Texas Public Information Act.

''Access has to rest on a statute or the Constitution,'' Larsen said.
''There is no statute that gives you access to a police scanner.''

When the Wichita Falls Police Department in 2005 upgraded from
traditional police radios that many people could hear with a police
scanner to the same digital radio system Abilene is using, it left the
media and the public in the dark and denied them access to all police
communication.

Two months later, the police department and the media in Wichita Falls
came to an agreement that allowed the media to listen to fire and
general police traffic, according to the Times Record News. The Times
Record News is owned by The E.W. Scripps Company, parent company of
the Reporter-News.

Abilene Assistant Police Chief Jim Berry said the decision to allow
the media to listen in on police dispatch calls would be in the best
interests of both the department and the media so that the good
relationship they have established with each other could be
maintained.

How do police communicate?

Abilene Police Department officers use about 25 ''talk groups'' when
they use their radios to talk to each other. A combination of digital
and traditional analog transmissions can be heard on police scanners.

Each police radio is programmed with a particular ''personality.''
Radio personalities have access to specific talk groups. Each channel
on the dial represents different talk groups. Talk groups are
accessible by officers in particular departments. For example,
detectives in the Criminal Investigation Division have multiple talk
groups that are not available to every police officer. Detectives,
patrol officers and other divisions have their own groups.

Copyright 2007, Abilene Reporter News. All Rights Reserved.


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Old March 28th 07, 03:30 AM posted to rec.radio.scanner
BDK BDK is offline
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First recorded activity by RadioBanter: Sep 2006
Posts: 74
Default Public has almost no access to new police radios

In article .com,
says...
Abilene Reporter News

Public has almost no access to new police radios


By Blanca Cantu /

March 27, 2007

A new police and fire communications system designed to help emergency
crews stay in touch also means the news media has less access to
information about incidents affecting the public.

Abilene police and fire departments recently ditched an 18-year-old
dispatch system for a new $14 million system that has better
encryption capabilities and keeps many of the conversations people
using police scanners are accustomed to hearing off the air. Police
and fire officials began using the new system this month.

New radios purchased by the Reporter-News, KTXS-TV, KRBC-TV and KTAB-
TV that can pick up transmissions from the new system were programmed
by the city's communication services department. Abilene media can
listen to a police and fire dispatch channel and eight tactical fire
channels.

Before the city upgraded its communication system, the media and the
public could hear police and dispatchers chatter on multiple channels.
Now, the media has limited access - but the public has almost none.
Traditional police scanners cannot pick up transmissions on the new
system, meaning it must rely more on the media to report police and
fire news at a time when less information is available to the media on
police radios.

Jim Berry, assistant chief of the Abilene Police Department, said the
media no longer has access to the police service channels because the
department decided ''it's best for operations.'' Service channels are
used when officers in the field ask dispatchers to make a call for
them or check a license plate number.

Berry said the media's inaccessibility to the service channels helps
the department comply with an agreement the department has with the
Texas Department of Public Safety.

Information transmitted over the service channel can contain
information extracted from DPS' Texas Law Enforcement
Telecommunication system - and that is not public information, he
said.

''As a law enforcement officer, I cannot provide you with any
information that comes out of the TLET system,'' Berry said. ''Due to
the nature of police operations, there is information and
communications that you should not have access to.''

Berry, representatives of the fire department and the media met last
year to discuss radio accessibility. Berry said in the interest of
maintaining a good relationship with the media, the police department
granted the media access to the primary dispatch channel for patrol.

''We felt like that would meet your needs,'' Berry said. The agreement
was more than media in Wichita Falls initially received (see below).

At last year's meeting in Abilene, Scott Martin, chief photographer
for KTXS, said he asked for more access. But his request was denied.

News director Iain Munro said KTXS would like to have access to all
channels so that his staff can hear everything and judge things more
clearly.

''The last thing we want to do is get in the way of the police force
doing their job,'' Munro said.

The news station's photographers were concerned they wouldn't hear
certain things, he said. Not hearing chatter over the scanner forces
more calls to dispatchers, further tying up the lines of
communication.

''We want to be able to cover the story and do it so we're not
interfering with the police officers' jobs,'' Munro said.

Tom Vodak, news director for KRBC and KTAB, said the change in access
to police and fire communications hasn't affected the stations' news
coverage.

Is there a basis for complaints?

Joe Larsen, board member of the Freedom of Information Foundation of
Texas, said media outlets can't argue for more access to police
chatter on the basis of the Texas Public Information Act.

''Access has to rest on a statute or the Constitution,'' Larsen said.
''There is no statute that gives you access to a police scanner.''

When the Wichita Falls Police Department in 2005 upgraded from
traditional police radios that many people could hear with a police
scanner to the same digital radio system Abilene is using, it left the
media and the public in the dark and denied them access to all police
communication.

Two months later, the police department and the media in Wichita Falls
came to an agreement that allowed the media to listen to fire and
general police traffic, according to the Times Record News. The Times
Record News is owned by The E.W. Scripps Company, parent company of
the Reporter-News.

Abilene Assistant Police Chief Jim Berry said the decision to allow
the media to listen in on police dispatch calls would be in the best
interests of both the department and the media so that the good
relationship they have established with each other could be
maintained.

How do police communicate?

Abilene Police Department officers use about 25 ''talk groups'' when
they use their radios to talk to each other. A combination of digital
and traditional analog transmissions can be heard on police scanners.

Each police radio is programmed with a particular ''personality.''
Radio personalities have access to specific talk groups. Each channel
on the dial represents different talk groups. Talk groups are
accessible by officers in particular departments. For example,
detectives in the Criminal Investigation Division have multiple talk
groups that are not available to every police officer. Detectives,
patrol officers and other divisions have their own groups.

Copyright 2007, Abilene Reporter News. All Rights Reserved.



Is it just me, or does it seem like the author really doesn't quite
understand what they are writing about?

BDK
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Old March 28th 07, 02:28 PM posted to rec.radio.scanner
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First recorded activity by RadioBanter: Mar 2007
Posts: 5
Default Public has almost no access to new police radios

In Texas, west Texas that is. Why does a west Texas PD need for such a
system. Since 9-11 Millions has been spent for towns to upgrade to Hi tech
crap.
Everyone has gone Terrorist crazy.



"BDK" wrote in message
...
In article ,
says...
"BDK" wrote in message
...
In article .com,
says...
Abilene Reporter News

Public has almost no access to new police radios


Is it just me, or does it seem like the author really doesn't quite
understand what they are writing about?


Well it is not totally clear from the article- are they encrypting all
but a
few talkgroups? If that is the case it certainly is one of the more
restrictive public safety radio systems around.





I read it a couple of times and I can't tell if they think digital is
encrypted, or it really is encrypted.
www.radioreference.com would have
the info, if I could figure out what county Abilene is in.

BDK





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Old March 28th 07, 06:42 PM posted to rec.radio.scanner
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First recorded activity by RadioBanter: Mar 2007
Posts: 7
Default Public has almost no access to new police radios


I know where Abilene is, but I can't seem to find the county, and
without the county, radioreference is pretty useless.

BDK



According to my mapping software it's Taylor County.

Dave


  #8   Report Post  
Old March 28th 07, 06:46 PM posted to rec.radio.scanner
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First recorded activity by RadioBanter: Mar 2007
Posts: 7
Default Public has almost no access to new police radios


"Dave Ferguson" wrote in message
link.net...

I know where Abilene is, but I can't seem to find the county, and
without the county, radioreference is pretty useless.

BDK



According to my mapping software it's Taylor County.

Dave


Looks like an EDACS Pro-voice system which needless to say there isn't a
scanner on the market to monitor that type of system. They have that here
in Johnston County, NC.

Dave


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Old March 28th 07, 09:51 PM posted to rec.radio.scanner
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First recorded activity by RadioBanter: Jul 2006
Posts: 44
Default Public has almost no access to new police radios

"BDK" wrote in message
...
I read it a couple of times and I can't tell if they think digital is
encrypted, or it really is encrypted. www.radioreference.com would have
the info, if I could figure out what county Abilene is in.

BDK


RR is great for info but often is WAYYYY behind on changes. The system here
changed a couple years ago and RR still does not have the info right. A
couple people I know of tried to get them to update it, but it still shows
the wrong info. So they may or may not have the right info.
--
Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer.
Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does
not go nearly as well with pizza.
--Dave Barry


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Old March 29th 07, 07:50 PM posted to rec.radio.scanner
BDK BDK is offline
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First recorded activity by RadioBanter: Sep 2006
Posts: 74
Default Public has almost no access to new police radios

In article , alexx1400
@yahoo.com says...
"BDK" wrote in message
...
I read it a couple of times and I can't tell if they think digital is
encrypted, or it really is encrypted. www.radioreference.com would have
the info, if I could figure out what county Abilene is in.

BDK


RR is great for info but often is WAYYYY behind on changes. The system here
changed a couple years ago and RR still does not have the info right. A
couple people I know of tried to get them to update it, but it still shows
the wrong info. So they may or may not have the right info.


That's why I tell newbies to find a local scanner group. They know all
the stuff, a long time before it makes it to the public.

BDK


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