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