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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

Encrypted public safety radio. Help...
Chris Preovolos, Photographer
Stamford | CT | United States | Posted: 8:59 AM on 06.26.08
->> Does anyone know of any municipalities that have successfully negotiated with local media to allow access to encrypted police and fire dispatch radio systems for monitoring in the newsroom.

I've been able to find a couple through Google but any help would be appreciated.

I don't really want to turn this into a discussion about whether they have the right/need to encrypt their communications.

All I can say is, as of 7 a.m. the only way we will know about a fire or a murder, etc. is if someone calls the newsroom.

Thanks,
CP
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Jeffrey Haderthauer, Photographer
Wichita Falls | TX | USA | Posted: 9:10 AM on 06.26.08
->> It took us a little while, but our paper and the two tv stations in town were each given two radios by the PD after they went encrypted. For a while, it seemed like we weren't going to get them.
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Grant Blankenship, Photographer
Macon | GA | USA | Posted: 10:16 AM on 06.26.08
->> What sort of encryption are they using? Down here, police and fire are on a 800mHz digitally encrypted Motorola Type II system. There are a number of scanners that can listen in to that without the aid of the public safety radio guys in programming.
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G.M. Andrews, Photographer
Mobile | AL | USA | Posted: 2:08 PM on 06.26.08
->> There's digital, and then there's encrypted analog and digital systems.

There are scanners that will decode P25 digital systems, usually of the Motorola flavor. These systems sometimes have a mix of analog and digital traffic and talkgroups.

There are no scanners (and it's illegal anyway) that have the technology that will decode encrypted communications.

Most media outlets usually have to petition local agencies to have a radio programmed for them. Motorola and MA/Com radios run in the $2000+ range, and some agencies limit which talkgroups and channels media can listen to.

A good place for information on this:

www.radioreference.com
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Adam Hemphill, Student/Intern, Photographer
Willimantic | CT | | Posted: 4:28 PM on 06.26.08
->> It may vary from department to department, but the Connecticut State Police systems are not encrypted. What you need to monitor their frequencies is a digital scanner, most of which run about $500. The most popular models are the Uniden BCD396T, the Radio Shack Pro-96, and the more recent GRE PSR-500.
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Kevin M. Cox, Photographer, Assistant
Galveston / Houston | TX | US | Posted: 6:31 PM on 06.26.08
->> I've got to assume the Stamford Project 25 System in the one in question:
http://www.radioreference.com/apps/db/?sid=5503

According to the notes on RadioReference, "All but a very few of the talk groups are encrypted full time with no on off option for the user."

Maybe someone from San Antonio can chime in and advise whether the Express News and area TV stations were issued radios after public safety switched to ProVoice (the same kind of system Jeff has to deal with in Wichita Falls).
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Nate Billings, Photographer
Oklahoma City | OK | USA | Posted: 7:04 PM on 06.26.08
->> The Oklahoma City police and fire are digital and encrypted.

We buy M/A-Com P5100 scanners (about $2500 each, I believe) and then give them to the OKC law enforcement to program for us.

The price of these scanners has been quite a shock coming from being able to buy a RadioShack scanner for around $300 to $500 that could scan the trunking systems previously used in Oklahoma County.
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Chris Preovolos, Photographer
Stamford | CT | United States | Posted: 6:34 PM on 07.01.08
->> Adam, yeah, we already monitor CSP with a digital bearcat, though, to be honest, I never hear anything decent on there. I can only think of one time when I really got something important that we heard only on the CSP freq.

Anyway, I think we are trying to talk to the city government about this. Like you guys said, our only options may be to either buy the radios and have the city program them or to buy them through the city. Either way it will be expensive an I have a feeling that we will only get one scanner–for the newsroom. This has already been quite a shock to me personally since I am the most experienced and diligent scanner monitor at the paper. There was a rumor about some sort of internet feed that would somehow be secure. I'm not sure.

Right now, we are flying blind in terms of spot news.

...I just put all my scanners on eBay today. So sad ;-)
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Chris Preovolos, Photographer
Stamford | CT | United States | Posted: 6:39 PM on 07.01.08
->> Oh yeah, EVERYTHING is encrypted, from the cops to the garbage trucks. However, they are rebroadcasting the initial fire dispatches on a VHF freq so that the volunteer department's pagers will still work.

I was thinking about picking up a Motorola Minitor pager on eBay so I can get this and its very small so I could wear it on my belt or camera bag and not look like a total jerk...unless there is a really, really smaller scanner out there (maybe RadioShack Pro-137 with a stub antenna) that I could find since I only need to pick up that one freq.
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Jeffrey Haderthauer, Photographer
Wichita Falls | TX | USA | Posted: 6:56 PM on 07.01.08
->> Unless your city is going to make the internet feed real-time, it is next to worthless. Ours has a ten minute delay, even for the passworded 'media' version.

Our paper purchased two M/A-Com LPE-200's and had the police program them. We get the primary police and fire channels only. So we get to hear the dispatches, but no discussion about what is going on.
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William Luther, Photographer
San Antonio | TX | USA | Posted: 11:26 AM on 07.02.08
->> San Antonio has a M/A-Com, not Motorola system. So it is a little hard to compare your system in CT to ours here.

But one of the differences is that the M/A-Com system we have has a "system key" that is laid on top of the control channel. This is technically not encryption, but no commercially available scanner can unlock the key.

In addition to the control channel system key, there are channels that have actual encryption on them.

Most of he media outlets in San Antonio have purchased M/A-Com radios that are then programmed by the city. They only get the main dispatch channels and are locked into scan mode so you can't even lock onto a dispatch channel when something is happing on that channel.

So they are pretty limiting compared to the access we used to have, but they are all we have.
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Jeffrey Haderthauer, Photographer
Wichita Falls | TX | USA | Posted: 5:20 PM on 07.02.08
->> William-

It sounds like San Antonio PD is going out of their way to be dickish to you guys. This is just me, but I would think that the cops would be better off giving us MORE information, because then we wouldn't show up places just to see if something is news. That way the police only have to "deal" with us if they really need to.
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Chris Preovolos, Photographer
Stamford | CT | United States | Posted: 10:37 PM on 09.12.08
->> This is still an unresolved issue for us. Stamford is a pretty quiet place given the size relative to other cities in the state.

We did have a murder the other day. I was actually surprised that we got a call from the PIO the morning they found the body, however, this was still at least two hours after the first patrol unit rolled up on the scene...which is sort of a moot point anyway because there would have been no one to monitor the scanner in the newsroom at 8:30 a.m. anyway.

–CP
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Steven E. Frischling, Photographer
Live HVN : Work SFO-NYC | | | Posted: 10:55 PM on 09.12.08
->> Chris,

I have heard of radio buffs getting their hands on a digital-radio, then rebroadcasting it 'in the clear' on a VHF or UHF channel. This is legally tricky, generally HAMs with to much free time, but should you get a radio in the newsroom look into this.

You can also look into a service such as Incident Page Net,
http://www.incidentpage.net . IPN's volunteer dispatchers are often HAMs, vollie firefighters, off-duty cops and the info tends to be reliable. You can get it on a pager, or text messages sent to your mobile phone.
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Thread Title: Encrypted public safety radio. Help...
Thread Started By: Chris Preovolos
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