Little Rock police scanners now encrypted - KATV - Breaking News, Weather and Razorback Sports

Little Rock police scanners now encrypted

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LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - An encrypted communication movement sweeping America's police departments has hit Little Rock.

Conway, North Little Rock and Russellville have already made the switch.

There are pros and cons of encrypted police communication.

When a tornado ripped through Arkansas on April 27, police scanners gave newsrooms the first indications of where damages and injuries were the worst.

The information helped direct our response and keep you, the public, informed.

And when a police shooting occurred last summer along 12th street in Little Rock we first heard about it on the scanner.

As a protesters gathered and police organized, anyone with a scanner could listen in as the police discussed crowd control tactics.

Police say modern technology like phone app's that monitor scanner traffic gives the bad guys an edge and jeopardizes officer safety so scanner traffic is now digitally encrypted.

The public and the press can no longer listen in.

"I think there needs to be some work done and quite frankly I think it should have been done months ago when all of this was first being talked about to allow the media to have access to scanners by buying them," said Doug Krile, executive director of the Arkansas Broadcasters Association. "And let the police departments put in the encryption key just so they can monitor it just like media always has."

The police department had initially proposed limited encryption.

The switch to an all-out black-out surprised many city leaders, including Little Rock City Director Stacy Hurst.

"We have to balance the public's right to know with our officers' safety and public safety," Hurst said. "But I think there should be more discussion on it and maybe see if there is not a way to allow for limited access."

The Little Rock City Board of Directors next meets Tuesday night.

It remains to be seen if this issue will make the agenda.

Air date: August 4th, 2014