Radio communication

Santa Clara Police Department to encrypt their radio communications system later this month

Currently, residents can listen to Santa Clara police radios, but that will change by the end of April, police said on Wednesday.

This week, Santa Clara Police said it will switch to encrypted police radio stations by April 26 in order to comply with California Department of Justice policies.

The change will prevent people with commercial scanners or smartphone scanning apps from eavesdropping on radio traffic and hearing police discuss crimes or incidents as they occur.

The reason for the transition is the result of a newsletter released in October 2020 by the state that requires law enforcement agencies to protect personally identifiable information such as names, dates of birth and driver’s license, social security or military identification numbers.

Law enforcement agencies are also required to withhold criminal justice information such as wishes, warrants, restraining orders, and details relating to a person’s probation or parole status.

The reason for the blockages is to protect individuals from identity theft and to provide privacy for those involved, police said.

State directives allow law enforcement agencies to comply with this policy in two ways. Agencies can create policies that restrict the release of classified information through an open frequency or simply encrypt all of their communications.

The Santa Clara Police Department chose the latter.

Most law enforcement agencies in Santa Clara County have done the same. There are only four agencies, including the Santa Clara Police, which are still in transition to completely encrypt their communication. The other three are law enforcement agencies in Milpitas, San Jose Evergreen College, and West Valley / Mission College.

Santa Clara Police said the change was also intended, among other things, to limit the work of criminals who track open police communications, “and to provide additional safeguards to responding public security personnel.”

The department acknowledged the move would reduce its public transparency, but pledged to use its website, social media platforms and apps to keep the community informed about trends in crime and law enforcement activity, a the police said.

Information can be found on AlertSCC, Community Crime Map, GovDelivery, Facebook, Nextdoor, Nixle, Twitter and others, police said.

Police will also update their daily arrest log, weekly police log, and monthly online crime statistics.

More information about the police department radio system log can be found here.