SF Police Chief Talks Scanner Encryption After Sioux City Considers Idea

After a handful of incidents over the last six months where criminals were monitoring their radio communications, the Woodbury County Sheriff’s Office and Sioux City Police Department are looking at encrypting their scanner traffic. Police in Sioux Falls say they will be keeping an eye on what the law enforcement agencies in Iowa decide.

Whether it be a family dispute, burglary, or homicide, anyone can listen in on what’s happening in and around the city of Sioux Falls.

“We have just a couple channels that have some encryption right now, that’s for our tactical teams and some sensitive investigation units but other than that everything else is out in the open,” said Sioux Falls Police Chief Matt Burns.

It’s also open to criminals, who have been known to use them to evade police. Without going into detail, Burns says there’s a couple of instances that come to mind.
“We know that there’s the possibility out there that anytime open communications that with the advance in technology that others may try to take advantage of that or use that, if they have a criminal intent, to help further their criminality,” said Burns.

Now with the use of apps, that technology can go wherever they do.

Burns said, “The technology through apps and smart phones is only going to get better and better and so in order to help protect our own communications and to ensure that they are compromised and then therefore compromising the public safety, is at some point we may have to look at that.”

Law enforcement agencies across the country have started encrypting all channels of communication. At some point, Sioux Falls Police realize they may have to look at doing the same.

“We hate to wait for a major event to have to change the way you operate unfortunately many times that’s the way it goes. I can tell you at a very small level, we’ve had those conversations,” said Burns.

Sioux Falls Police communications are part of the state radio system so if any changes were made, Burns says it would have to be in conjunction with state policies.