Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Dept. encrypts all communications - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Dept. encrypts all communications

LAS VEGAS — The Baltimore Post-Examiner was the first news outlet to question why all the LVMPD police tactical communications were broadcasted openly the night of October 1, 2017 during the worst mass shooting in American history.

Clark County Sheriff, Joe Lombardo who runs the LVMPD raised the issue of their radio communications at a press conference last Friday when he announced the release of a preliminary police investigative report on the Las Vegas massacre.

Lombardo said the plans had been in the works for two years and had nothing to do with the October 1 massacre. That may or may not be true, but one thing is certain. You can no longer monitor any of the LVMPD patrol area commands. Simply put, if you own a radio scanner you can no longer hear the police dispatch center and the patrol officers. The specialized units had been utilizing encrypted channels ever since the LVMPD switched over a few years ago to the P25 Phase2 digital protocol.

As of 11:00 p.m. Wednesday night the only LVMPD radio channels that had not been encrypted yet were the Administrative and the Records channel. How this is going to sit with the media and the public remains to be seen.

The LVMPD is not alone though in encrypting all police communications.

The Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, the Santa Monica Ca., Sioux City, IA., Wilmington NC., Youngstown, OH., Springfield, MA. and many other police departments across the country also encrypt their communications.

As a former police officer, I never was a big fan of unencrypted police communications. Giving criminals the opportunity to monitor police traffic I always felt could place police officer’s lives in danger as well as the public.

As technology has progressed over the years even radio scanners are not needed to monitor the police in most large cities. If you own a cellphone, laptop or tablet all that is necessary is to download an app to any number of sites that broadcast in real time police communications of many US police departments.

With the rise of terrorist-related incidents, encrypting all police communications is the prudent way to go. The first responders to any incident are the patrol officers of any police department. To have their location and movements openly broadcasted is an invitation to disaster.

Had the October 1 Las Vegas massacre been a Mumbai type terrorist attack, the tactical movements of the police that were openly broadcasted that night could very well have cost the lives of police officers and civilians. It was a major blunder, specifically since the audio recordings from that night are now available on the Internet for anyone to study and analyze.

There will no doubt be negative feedback from the public and the media on the LVMPD’s decision to encrypt their communications, specifically from the point of view of transparency. Like I stated earlier, the LVMPD are not alone in their decision. Many other police departments are also considering taking the same action.

We live in an entirely different world today.

With the mass shootings and terrorist attacks that have occurred in this country, giving even an inch of tactical advantage to the police by encrypting their communications is the right way to go.

Never forget the 58 people who were murdered and the 851 who were wounded and or injured in the worst mass shooting in American history that occurred on the Las Vegas Strip, October 1, 2017.

It should never have happened.


About the author

Doug Poppa

Doug Poppa is a US Army Military Police Veteran, former law enforcement officer, criminal investigator and private sector security and investigations management professional with 40 years of experience. In 1986 Mr. Poppa was awarded “Criminal Investigator of the Year” by the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office in Virginia for his undercover work in narcotics enforcement. He was also re-assigned to the Northern Virginia Regional Narcotics Enforcement Task Force for 18 months. In 1991 and again in 1992 Mr. Poppa’s testimony under oath in court led to the discovery that exculpatory evidence was withheld from the defense by the prosecutor and sheriff’s office officials during the 1988 trial of a man accused of attempted murder of his wife that led to his conviction. As a result of his testimony the man was ordered released from prison, given a new trial in 1992 and found not guilty. Mr. Poppa became the subject of local and national news media attention as a result of his testimony which led to the demise of his 12-year police career. After losing his job, at the request of the FBI, Mr. Poppa infiltrated in an undercover capacity a group of men who were plotting the kidnapping of a Dupont Chemical fortune heir and his wife in 1992. His stories have been featured on Inside Edition, A Current Affair, and CBS News’ Street Stories with Ed Bradley. Contact the author.
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