Radio Silence - Dakota County Scanner Encryption

Limitless Media

DAKOTA COUNTY - Whether you are listening to the scanner from OpenMHz, Broadcastify, the Scanner Radio app, or your own personal radio scanner you might have noticed the scanner seems a little quieter than normal. This is especially true for the police activity across Dakota County. No, police activity isn't down, but as of 8:30 AM on September 20, 2023, all police activity that was normally on the main channels and open to the public has switched to encrypted channels and is no longer openly available to the public. You likely never knew about this flip to encryption, because there has been little to no coverage on the whole subject. Nothing was announced publicly by Dakota County Officials, and much if not the whole thing was done behind closed doors.

We reached out to the Dakota County Sheriff back in August for more information on the encryption when it was rumored that the official change over to encrypted radio traffic was to occur sometime in September. Unfortunately, we never heard anything back from the Dakota County Sheriff in regard to our request for more information. We have also reached out to a few Dakota County Commissioners for more information about the encryption of the radio traffic and are awaiting their reply.

At this time, the only channels that appear to be encrypted are the main police channels. From our understanding, it was recommended by the FBI for local municipalities to encrypt their channels as certain sensitive information could be shared and heard by the general public. Those who back the encryption of radio traffic state the encryption will increase officer safety and protect possible victims of a crime if their sensitive information is taken by a member of the public listening to a scanner. Those opposed to the encryption, including news agencies, freelance media organizations, and local radio enthusiasts, say with the encryption you lose government transparency. The news can no longer report on possible criminal activity that might be occurring since they will no longer know of the event occurring unless members of the local community send a tip to the news agency, or after the fact if the police issue a press release on the event. While news agencies or journalists do have the option to submit requests for data, those requests can be denied, hindering police accountability. Those data requests should also include the encrypted scanner traffic, but that is something we are working to still confirm.

While we wait for more information from Dakota County officials about the radio encryption, it does appear that the police tactical channels, fire, and EMS channels will remain open to the public. Again, once more information is made available to us, we will be sure to post an updated story.
Photo byMarkie Marcus Marison

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