Sioux Falls, Rapid City law enforcement to encrypt radio scanners
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Law enforcement agencies in the Sioux Falls and Rapid City areas will soon encrypt their radios, which means they will no longer be accessible to the public on a scanner.
Starting November 13, the Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office, Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, Rapid City Police Department, and Sioux Falls Police Department will make the transition. The move was announced Friday during a joint press conference between the agencies.
This complies with federal guidelines specific to Project 25 (P25), which mandates first responder agencies nationwide to transition to a new, unified radio communications system by 2025. With this upgrade to radios and equipment for P25, agencies can reassess their approach to encrypted radio communications channels.
“In recent years, our officers have encountered suspects actively committing crimes out in the community that are adjusting their actions based on live scanner traffic available on their smartphones,” said Rapid City Chief of Police Don Hedrick. “The public expects that if they call police, we’re going to track down the suspects and apprehend them—a job that’s difficult when the offender has your playbook on their phone.”
Another reason for the move was to protect the names, location and other personal information of victims and witnesses.
The agencies said they will continue to use social media and logs on their websites, which they claimed are updated every five to 10 minutes, to keep the public informed. Public information officers and agency officials will continue to keep the public informed of impactful situations while remaining readily available for media partners.
“The decision to encrypt radios throughout Pennington County and Minnehaha County, including Sioux Falls and Rapid City, was not made lightly. As technology continues to change how the world works, law enforcement agencies must adapt their policies and operations to best meet their public safety and officer safety responsibilities,” said Minnehaha County Sheriff Mike Milstead.
The move is a trend that has already been implemented in communities like Yankton and many larger cities across the nation, but it is not required.
Copyright 2023 KSFY. All rights reserved.