- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 29, 2016

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Sioux City police are considering encrypting law enforcement and emergency radio channels as a means of catching runaway criminals.

Police Chief Doug Young said some suspects use police radio apps on their smartphones to escape law enforcement. He says the goal of encryption is for law enforcement to apprehend criminals without worrying about them picking up police radio traffic.

“We’ve had criminals here use it, and that’s what’s burned us,” he said. “It’s harder to do our jobs because the criminals are listening to these apps.”

The change would also encrypt radios used by the Woodbury County Sheriff’s Office and could affect Sioux City Fire Rescue and other emergency personnel or vehicles in the area. Young said it would be inexpensive for the department to make the switch.

The Sioux City Journal (https://bit.ly/1V0poT0 ) reports that encryption would likely make it more difficult for the news media and others to continue monitoring public safety scanner traffic. But Young says the change wouldn’t have much of an impact on the general public.

“I don’t think a lot of people care,” he said. “I think they want us to do our job, but I don’t think it’s going to affect Joe Blow out in the street who probably doesn’t listen to police traffic.”

Young said that the move wouldn’t be intended to decrease police transparency.

“The encryption is just the broadcast,” Young said. “The details still would be at the 911 center. If you call up and say you want the radio traffic for this instance, you could get it.”

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Information from: Sioux City Journal, https://www.siouxcityjournal.com

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