Saturday, April 16, 2011

Illinois Radio News: DesPlaines & Park Ridge PD Switching To Starcom 21, Possibly Full Time Encryption With Cook County

We knew it was just a mater of time until the near-by Chicago burbs in the West / Northwest areas started to become a bunch of gullible followers. Sure there's an advantage to having interoperability, but rumor has it that DesPlaines PD & Park Ridge PD are not JUST going over to Starcom 21, but that they are joining the Cook County Sheriff on the encrypted portion of the system.

Hopefully, the encryption rumor is false because shutting out entire communities from listening in when they know full well that 99% of the community are their eyes & ears in a law abiding fashion is ill advised. Encryption is also horribly expensive and could potentially pose Officer safety hazards when it comes to that radio being their lifeline.

Lets add to the mix that in this faltering economy, people cannot afford to go buy a five hundred dollar receiver even if they were to stay "in the clear". One more factor is that it adds to feelings of mistrust among community members who are otherwise in favor of our police doing their jobs safely & going home alive. Comsec practices dictate that common sense is best....if it's sensitive then use the cell phone! Use your PDT (assuming it's working).

Here's some good questions for everyone including working officers to ask their bosses:

1. Is Cook County going to share encryption keys with DesPlaines & Park Ridge?
If not, then the whole idea of having interoperability with the Sheriff's Dept. is lost!

2. If the new radios lose their encryption keys and an officer gets killed or so severely injured that they are able to draw disability pension...are the Departments and therefore, the taxpayers gonna foot the bill? Is this worth taking that kind of risk?

3. If anything happens, and an Officer or an Officer's family decides to lodge is that gonna look in regards to public image? Can they or will they sue Motorola or whoever the vendor is? Can that endanger the business contract with the municipality?

4. Did these respective departments do their homework thoroughly? What we know for sure is that these vendors like to sell products and then stop offering support a few years later. That means no more parts for the radios or the repeaters. How do you then maintain the system?

The standard answer beyond interoperability is that someone in a ranking position believes that the "terrorists" are listening. Anyone who knows anything about terrorism and counter-terrorism, street intelligence, and organized crime rising to the level of potential terrorism knows that the best way to watch the police is to be there on the street observing. A smart terrorist, or really, any smart criminal is watching with their eyes. These public predators are using a street network, not radio equipment because they are not smart enough to even know how to use the stuff.

Going to the newest and most expensive radio system in the name of interoperability with the delusion of increased comsec is just a waste of money & resources. Can anyone out here comment on this rumor at all? Has anything been set in stone? Is there a projected switchover date?  Has anyone reviewed the contracts to see if any inappropriate business practices have gone unchecked (political cronyism, favors, etc)?

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