Steamboat police keep radios public amid statewide encryption trend

Steamboat Pilot & Today: The Denver Police Department will soon be among more than two dozen agencies across Colorado that encrypts all of their radio traffic, making it difficult or impossible for people, including journalists, to listen in on breaking news.

While local law enforcement has not yet considered encrypting scanner traffic in Routt County anytime soon, the growing trend has created a ripple effect that many fear could restrict the media’s ability to alert people about important, sometimes life-threatening, incidents in their communities.

The issue has pitted the public’s right to know against safety concerns from law enforcement agencies who say radio traffic publicly broadcasts sensitive information that could put citizens and officers at risk.

Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen told the Denver Post that encryption could begin as early as mid-April. The department would join at least 28 other Colorado agencies that have already encrypted their radio traffic, including Longmont, Fort Collins and Aurora.

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