Breaking News
More () »

Denver Police will change to encrypted transmissions

Police want media to sign agreement with restrictions to obtain radio access

DENVER — Editor's note: Negotiations continue between media outlets and the city of Denver on an agreement that would provide access to encrypted police radio transmissions.  With discussions ongoing, the city has not provided a new date when scanner traffic will be encrypted.   

Every day they are out there -- words that can be plucked out of thin air from open radio transmissions by Denver Police. But soon, those words will go silent, impacting the way the media tells the people about emergencies.

"The issue is really getting information out to the public," Jeff Roberts, said.

Roberts is the executive director for the Freedom of Information Coalition. He said scanners are a useful tool for the media, but radio encryption takes that away.

"So it's not only just listening to potential news situations, but it's also a way of seeing how public servants are doing their jobs," Roberts said.

Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen said he needs to protect information.

"We cannot broadcast victim, witness and juvenile information that (can) be listened to on about 20 different phone applications," Pazen said.

The Denver Police Department is offering encrypted radios to the media to maintain access to radio traffic, but they must sign an agreement which contains restrictions such as no recording or broadcasting transmissions.

"We easily could've just flipped the switch and said figure it out, follow us on Twitter. We are not saying that. We want to make sure that we maintain our transparency," Pazen said.

Roberts said more agencies around Colorado are upgrading to encrypted radios.

"I got to say at least in Denver, they've made an offer to have encrypted radios available to the news media," Roberts said. "Some agencies aren't even doing that."

9NEWS has yet to sign the agreement. Director of Content Eric Valadez said in a statement, "We respect the important role law enforcement plays in keeping our community safe. We cannot accept an agreement that restricts access to public safety information or limits our ability to report in a transparent manner. 9NEWS remains optimistic we can reach an agreement that balances the concerns of police with our responsibility to serve the public."

SUGGESTED VIDEOS | Investigations from 9Wants to Know