Now before Crossroads residents get themselves into a tizzy, I'm NOT talking about the Victoria County Sheriff's Office or the City of Victoria Police Department.
In fact, I'm NOT even talking about The Crossroads-area.
This story arose out of Jacksonville, Fla.
Last week, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office removed police scanners from local newsrooms. The removal did not come out of the blue.
In July, the Sheriff's Office announced their decision to remove the scanners, citing budgetary issues.
Despite these claims, many feel that the removal was done in an effort to limit the media’s access to police communications.
For the past several years, Jacksonville media outlets have rented scanners from the police department, according to TVSpy.com Local news agencies would rent the $4,600 Motorola radios, with special encrypted frequencies, for about $70 each per month, according to The Florida Times-Union.
But the police department says it can’t afford to purchase new radios for its own staff so it needs to pull scanners from local newsrooms.
In the absence of scanners, Jacksonville media outlets are asking local residents for help in reporting crime as it happens.
I decided to share this news because even though this happened in Florida, it is certainly not an isolated incident.
With the struggling economy and the growing number of law enforcement agencies making the transition from analog scanners to digital scanners, this is a problem newsrooms around the country will continue to deal with.
In April 2010, The Advocate reported that the Victoria's new city-county digital radio system would likely create silence for Crossroads scanner listeners.
Our story explored viewpoints on both sides of the issue.
While law enforcement cited the need to keep criminals from listening to important communications and the need for a new more up-to-date system, the public straddled the fence about their right to know .
As a media outlet, we of course advocated for the scanners.
After working out an agreement with law enforcement, The Advocate does have access to digital scanners.
The encryption feature on the scanner and the lack of a scanner available to be purchased by the public with the ability to tune into the system's frequency, continues to keep Crossroads-area resident scanner-less.
What are your thoughts on this issue?
Should it be mandatory for law enforcement agencies to provide media outlets with scanners?
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