Pro: Police need to keep criminals from knowing too much
May 9, 2010 at 12:09 a.m.
Updated May 10, 2010 at 12:10 a.m.
The city and county law enforcement will convert to the digital radio system in June as part of a federal Homeland Security requirement. The city is taking the change one step further by encrypting emergency channels.
This raises the question: Should authorities block the public from scanner access to emergency calls.
Mind your own business. That is the mindset many Victorians have about whether the public should have access to scanner transmissions.
"If they are not involved in the medical field or can't contribute in some way, then why should they know? Not everybody should have" scanners, said 52-year-old Victoria resident Agnes Martinez.
Victoria Police Chief Bruce Ure said the added encryption feature would help thwart people who use scanner transmissions for evil.
"Too often, during a narcotics raid or any type of search, we often find scanners tuned into our frequency," Ure said. "We have also found criminals driving around with scanners in their cars."
He added, "To know where police resources are tied up is an incredible advantage to a criminal."
Victoria resident Rich Schaller expressed similar thoughts.
"A little stealth and a lack of access to the broadcast activities of law enforcement will keep the criminal element guessing and, frankly, ambulance chasers out of the way of people trying to protect the public," said Schaller.
He continued, "Scanners are a nice toy to have and I'm certain that there are legitimate uses for them outside that which the criminal element would use them for. Be that as it may, public access to police, fire and other emergency service frequencies are not a necessity or a right. I don't think that such services owe you or me direct access to their activities."
Former Victoria firefighter Bobby Stary, who retired eight years ago, knows all too well the problems that can occur from ambulance and fire chasers coming out to an emergency scene.
"You get that with scanners," said the 61-year-old Victoria resident. "We didn't like that, but that was the only downfall of them listening in."
Former scanner listener Anna Dozier, of Hallettsville, said that living in the city has caused her to have a change of heart about allowing everyone to listen in to the emergency transmissions.
"Growing up in the country, my parents had the scanner on, but since I've been in the city, I've changed the way I felt because it means more people listening and more people getting in the way," Dozier said. Encryption "gets into the whole thing of the government telling us what to do, say and eat, but I agree there should be a boundary with this."
Other Victoria residents expressed their thoughts on being kicked out of the information loop.
"I enjoy listening to our scanner; however, it is a very valid point that not all people listen for the best of reasons," said 57-year-old Cheryl Robbins of Victoria.
Meanwhile, 73-year-old Leo Aucera's kept his thoughts on the subject simple.
"People need to stay out of it," he said.