ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - St. Louis City police began encrypting their radio conversations Friday morning after learning protestors were listening to police radio traffic with cell phone apps.
"Information about police tactics was being shared over twitter and that put officers and the public at risk," said St. Louis police Chief Sam Dotson.
Basic information about police calls will be made available on a Metropolitan St. Louis Police website. Chief Dotson said his officers will protect the rights of protestors and others, but once one infringes on the other officers will step in. He pointed to crowds on Grand Boulevard Thursday night. "That is a major thoroughfare to the St. Louis University Hospital which is a level one trauma center and to Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital. We want to make sure ambulances can get through, people in need can get through," Dotson said.
The chief promised he will have extra officers on duty through the weekend as a series of protests unfolds at the same time St. Louis hosts the National League Championship series.
This is the official release from police about encrypting radios:
St. Louis, Mo. - Today, the Metropolitan Police Department, City of St. Louis encrypted its radio communications system, limiting access to police department transmissions. This
morning, at 7:00 a.m., the department transitioned the radio communications system to secure mode.
In recent situations, tactical information being relayed to officers through the department’s radio communications system was compromised. Sensitive information, such as specific details of officer action, was shared via social media sites, putting officers and the public at risk.
“With the recent events of unrest in our city and around the region, the decision to encrypt the department’s radio communications system is paramount in ensuring the safety of the 1,300 officers of this department, as well as the citizens we serve,” said Chief Sam Dotson.
In a commitment to remain open and transparent with the public, the department has launched a webpage on its website publicizing active calls for service for media use.
The webpage is updated every ten minutes with active calls for service. Calls are automatically removed from the webpage when they are closed. Individual addresses will be displayed as hundred blocks and intersections will be displayed if that is the location of the call.
“The Metropolitan Police Department is committed to maintaining the public’s trust in their police department and transparency plays a crucial role,” said Chief Dotson. “The webpage was established to provide access without compromising the safety of citizens and officers.”