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Manchester alderman's proposal for unencrypted police radio transmissions falls flat

New Hampshire Union Leader

September 21. 2016 1:42AM
Rachel Kobelenz dispatches a call from the Manchester police station. The department is encrypting all radio transmissions, which means the public can no longer listen in via scanners. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER — A move to require Manchester police to switch back to unencrypted police radio transmissions fell on deaf ears Tuesday night, with all but one city alderman rejecting the idea.

Manchester police began encrypting all transmissions earlier this month, resulting in radio silence for anyone with a scanner or smart-phone app that monitors police channels.

The change occurred when police began using the city’s new $5.8 million emergency radio system, a Motorola APX7000L.

On Tuesday, Alderman At Large Joseph Kelly Levasseur made a motion to direct the department to revert to unencrypted transmissions.

"Encryption seems to be a very hot topic," said Levasseur. "I’ve received many calls on this."

Assistant Police Chief Carlo Capano said the systems purchased by the city are designed to be encrypted. He said he was unsure of the cost associated with switching to unencrypted radios.

"My professional opinion is we should stay encrypted," Capano said.

Several aldermen said they agreed with the decision to encrypt the transmissions.

"This is all about officer safety," Ward 12’s Keith Hirschmann said.

The motion failed 1-13 on a voice vote, with Levasseur the only alderman voting in favor of making the switch.

In a statement earlier this month, police said encryption protects officers and the privacy of citizens.

"We can assure you that our decision had absolutely nothing to do with trying to hide any type of nefarious activity," the statement read.

Public Safety Technology Local and County Government Manchester

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