The Rockford Police Department is making a controversial change to its communications policy.  Beginning in August, it will encrypt all radio transmissions instead of allowing the public to monitor dispatch channels.

Police Chief Daniel O’Shea cites police safety and public privacy rights as the main reasons for the change.  He said in a statement, “While an open radio system offers a sense of transparency for citizens and news media, the risk of criminals using the same technology to monitor law enforcement channels jeopardizes officer safety. Ultimately, the safety of my officers, the safety of the public, and the public privacy rights of citizens are my primary concerns.”

Of course, publicly available police scanner traffic has been around for decades, even spawning popular websites like ‘Rockford Scanner’ which thousands of Stateline residents view frequently, many finding the radio information police provide to be important.

O’Shea gives assurances that they’re working on providing police information to the public and news media in a timely manner through other means.  “We will remain transparent, it just won’t be live time,” O’Shea says, “and it’ll cut down on some of the misrepresentations of crime that happens too.”