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Police scanner encryption lawsuit filed

Posted: August 20, 2014 - 7:51am

SHERWOOD (KATV) -Police departments in Russellville, Conway, Little Rock and North Little Rock have encrypted radio traffic without a challenge...until now.

A lawsuit has been filed that seeks to reopen police communication to everyone again.

You might have expected the corporate lawyers who work for KATV or the Democrat Gazette to have filed this lawsuit, but instead it is two brothers from Sherwood who say encrypted radio traffic violates the Freedom of Information Act.

Jeremy Mullens says in other states it has been the media to challenge police departments after a switch to encrypted communication.

"People have sued for access," says Jeremy Mullens. "But they have always stopped because the police have given it to the media. In this case I'm not the media. If they give it to me they're going to have to give it to everybody. The whole public should have it."

Jeremy works as an independent adjuster. His brother Brandon is a truck driver who relies on scanner traffic to help him avoid traffic tie-ups that can delay the delivery of time sensitive cargo. 

But he has other reasons to listen in as well.

"If there is a manhunt in my neighborhood...I'd like to know about it before the news picks it up or anybody else," says Brandon Mullens. "First hand information. Unedited. Uncut. It protects myself as well as my family."

The brothers realize that criminals may monitor scanner traffic and that may put police at a disadvantage, but they don't agree it puts them at greater risk.

"It's unfortunate when officers die," says Jeremy Mullens. "Not a single one has been injured or killed due to open radio traffic, anywhere. It's just not anything that I have been able to find. I've looked and I have not been able to find any instances of officers being unsafe because of open radio traffic."

The Mullens brothers don't have an attorney. They are representing themselves in this challenge. 

A hearing in Pulaski county circuit court will be set soon. 

August 19th, 2014

- KATV

KATV - Breaking News, Weather and Razorback Sports

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arkansasobserver
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arkansasobserver 08/20/14 - 01:07 pm
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Doing the job of a compliant media.

I agree with the Mullens brothers 100%, and hope they are successful with this lawsuit. Encrypting police communications deprives citizens of real-time information that can be vital, at the same time reducing the accountability of police officers to the community that pays for their service. "To Serve and Protect" has become "Trust us, we always do right". Weather-related damage, auto accidents, traffic backups, gas leaks, and fleeing suspects are all good situations for a citizen to avoid when you know what is happing. While the safety of police officers is always cited, I can remember no case where open communications got an officer hurt. When privacy & security is an issue, then an encrypted channel is still available. How about a good lawyer out there contacting these guys and offer assistance?

mikeng1994
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mikeng1994 08/20/14 - 02:12 pm
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It also provides criminals

It also provides criminals with real-time communications. Besides, truthfully, what are the number of people who spend their day doing nothing but scanning the police? Maybe the conspiracy theorists, but that's about it.

mikeng1994
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mikeng1994 08/21/14 - 06:39 am
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Oddly enough, the sport

Oddly enough, the sport scanner I bought for $59 scans the emergency services that can still be monitored and a list of "10-codes" is easily obtained by anyone, even me with my non-criminal stupidity. I won't even waste your time with a Quill like cut-n-paste link to the codes.

Therefore your entire statement is as retarded as your LCD alias.

FYI, I have liberated myself from the cable. So no HBO for me. I do play Call of Duty tho, much to the displeasure of my VA appointed mental health doctor.

crypted quill
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crypted quill 08/21/14 - 07:42 am
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Oh, comment box Mike... Like

Oh, comment box Mike...

Like the four "blood moons" of 2014 & 2015, facebook, social media, and the zombie apocalypse shall immanentize the eschaton.

mikeng1994
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mikeng1994 08/21/14 - 03:38 pm
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I've got 3000 ready to fire.

I've got 3000 ready to fire. Give or take a hunnered.

As far as the other, the only problem I have with it is when I use the 3 finger and thumb hold and I wind up wetting 2 of the fingers.

conwaygerl
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conwaygerl 08/21/14 - 01:21 pm
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also

A lot of police communications is done over cell phone, so we've been missing "the good stuff" for years now already.

Police are part of the government, we can trust them 100%.

Igor Rabinowitz
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Igor Rabinowitz 08/21/14 - 09:55 am
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That's what was asserted when this went in place.

With scant, less-than-scant, proof that was actually happening.

"The kids are listening to scanners so when we try to break up their beer-fueled parties they're gone before we get there," and funding was allotted.

Since that time the number of party busts had not gone up any significant degree - at all.

Like most of us, police hate people looking over their shoulder. Alas in light of the civil service role, well, got to take the good with the bad (and the bad's been had, if I may).

Budnmud
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Budnmud 08/20/14 - 03:21 pm
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Sales guys

Maybe its the work of some high pressure sales guys trying to squeeze every dime they can out of the communications budget. After all every public safety entity in central Arkansas already uses the big M. If you cant sell more radios sell more add-ons... just saying...

I used to be one of those scoundrels, sold a lot of scramblers in public safety...

out

Igor Rabinowitz
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Igor Rabinowitz 08/21/14 - 09:56 am
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That's it in a nutshell

With the end of the Cold War a lot of technology vendors had to find new markets. Police departments were an obvious choice.

arkansasobserver
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arkansasobserver 08/21/14 - 08:01 am
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Big "M"

The big "M" was, and may still be a large, hungry shark swimming in a sea of unlimited government money, selling police and fire departments whatever new, proprietary protocols they could come up with to maximize sales and lock them into their own equipment. At least their equipment was good quality.

As for Mike... there may not be a lot of citizens that listen to police communications day and night, but it would surprise you to know just how many listen occasionally. When bad weather approaches, there are many who tune to local agencies to monitor events, and their reaction to them. You admit to listening to those agencies that are still open. Are you a conspiracy theorist? There are many in this community who have responded to requests from public agencies for assistance when they needed the help. The federal government recognizes numerous volunteer organizations as resources in time of need, so don't think these people are nut-cases or conspiracy theorists... they are a valuable resource who spend their own money to be prepared for various emergencies. They even practice along side local agencies in emergency preparation events. In Conway, that resource is severely handicapped due to encryption.

Then, there is the fact that encryption can be used to hide inefficiencies, weaknesses and even misbehavior from the public. A police department that fears transparency is one which needs to practice it the most. I am hopeful that the Mayor and Chief will eventually realize the damage to public trust that has been caused by a police department that hides its activities, and turns off encryption for the main dispatch channel.

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