Joan Walters sits outside her home, listening to the Rockford police scanner. She’s been a fan of the audio for more than two decades,
Walters says, “I like to know if there’s [any crime] in my near neighborhood, and you learn a lot and are aware of other things in more neighborhoods.”
But she won’t be able listen in to crime calls in the near future, as new Rockford police Chief Dan O’Shea wants the city’s scanner frequencies to be encrypted. O’Shea cites officer safety, and fears that open scanner broadcasts let criminals know of police response tactics in advance.
Walters says she will miss listening to the audio, but supports O’Shea’s plan. She says, “I understand it and I’m all for it because police need all the help they can get. [Criminals] aren’t supposed to know what’s going on, but think they’re getting away with something, when they have [their scanner] on, they know where [the police] are.”
But RockfordScanner.com, a scanner monitoring website, has gotten more than 300 signatures on their online petition against O’Shea’s idea.
Resident Toby Haldeman vented his frustrations to aldermen during Monday night’s council meeting.
He says, “in my entire life of living in Rockford I’ve never heard of an officer safety being compromised because someone was listening to the scanner.”