Public Safety

Linn County law enforcement radio traffic to be encrypted

Officials: Open access to scanner traffic can endanger officers, public

Dispatcher Whitney Stout works a call at the Linn County Sheriff's Office in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015. (St
Dispatcher Whitney Stout works a call at the Linn County Sheriff’s Office in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Beginning next month, the public will no longer be able to listen to most law enforcement radio traffic in Linn County.

In mid-July, all Linn County radio communications will be encrypted, according to a news release from the Linn County Sheriff’s Office. Currently, many public safety radio channels can be streamed on the internet. However, officials said that can pose a risk to law enforcement and the public.

“Public safety communications channels streamed across the internet or openly broadcast give the public, media, criminals, and potential terrorists immediate access to crucial public safety information,” the release said. “There is an overriding need to protect critical public safety communications from compromise, so that information cannot be used to hinder emergency response, impede investigation and surveillance, or endanger the public.”

The news release said the local decision follows a nationwide trend and is recommended by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

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