Now hear this: Emergency agencies turn off radio encryption

FeaturesAssociated Press

Some police and fire departments are turning off their radio encryption and allowing the public to listen in again to their emergency dispatch communications. Other agencies are opting not to use encryption.

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Police officials say their officers can't communicate over encrypted radios with some neighboring law enforcement agencies with radio systems that either don't have access to their encrypted channels or aren't advanced enough to have encryption capability.

Some officials also say they've received complaints about encryption from the media and transparent government advocates.

The departments are bucking a slow trend toward encryption, which blocks people using scanners and cellphone apps from listening to emergency dispatch communications.

Police in New Orleans; Spokane, Washington; and other cities have vowed not to encrypt their main dispatch channels. Others have turned it off.