In a joint press conference across the state of South Dakota Friday, the Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office, Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, Rapid City Police Department, and Sioux Falls Police Department announced they have updated radios and equipment to comply with federal guidelines specific to Project 25 (P25). Recognizing the communication obstacles amongst mutual aid agencies during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the FCC created P25 to bolster communication efforts and prevent technological differences from interfering with public safety. This project mandates first responder agencies nationwide to transition to a new, unified radio communications system by 2025.
With this upgrade to radios and equipment for P25, agencies can reassess their approach to encrypted radio communications channels. Starting November 13, Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office, Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, Rapid City Police Department, and Sioux Falls Police Department will choose to encrypt their radios for the safety of officers and deputies, the integrity of investigations, and to protect victims’ and witnesses’ privacy.
“In recent years, our officers have encountered suspects actively committing crimes out in the community that are adjusting their actions based on live scanner traffic available on their smartphones,” said Rapid City Chief of Police Don Hedrick. “The public expects that if they call police, we’re going to track down the suspects and apprehend them—a job that’s difficult when the offender has your playbook on their phone.”
Encrypted communications prevent radio traffic from being utilized for criminal activities and will help keep law enforcement officers out of harm’s way during active investigations. Additionally, the names, locations, and other personal information of victims and witnesses will not be broadcast, ensuring the privacy they deserve.
“The decision to encrypt radios throughout Pennington County and Minnehaha County, including Sioux Falls and Rapid City, was not made lightly. As technology continues to change how the world works, law enforcement agencies must adapt their policies and operations to best meet their public safety and officer safety responsibilities,” said Minnehaha County Sheriff Mike Milstead.
Keeping the public’s trust is imperative to the success of day-to-day law enforcement operations, and transparency continues to be of the utmost importance for the four law enforcement agencies in the state’s two largest counties. Public information officers and agency officials will continue to keep the public informed of impactful situations while remaining readily available for media partners. Resources from all four agencies include crime logs and interactive crime maps, which provide 24/7 access to updates on law enforcement activity in their respective communities.
You can read the full article at the City of Sioux Falls.