What is radio encryption
Encryption is simply scrambling the radio transmission so that it cannot be heard, the transmission is then encoded with an encryption key, encryption keys are programmed on radios, matching encryption keys will encrypt the message and the audio will be put back together if the encryption is correct.
The concept of radio encryption is similar to house keys.
Radios that don’t have the correct encryptions keys will hear the transmission as garbled up.
Did you know that you can use RTL SDR dongle to listen to police radio conversations? Learn RTL SDR here
When did police radio encryption begin?
Police radio encryption began after the 9/11 incident, as police around the states felt that the officer’s safety was being compromised on open radio, so they encrypted their radios to hide senstive information from tom dick and harry.
Different states have different laws regarding police radio encryptions.
Back in the days, the police used to have analogue radios, and if you wanted to listen in, you had to go buy a radio that can tune into the frequency, that is how you can listen to police radio.
But now, they have changed the system from analogue to digital and you can tap into it with an app and an internet connection, you can tune in from anywhere around the world.
With ease of access to police radio transmissions, came problems that came from misinformation which spread rumors and also put officers’ lives at risk, hence the need for encryptions
However, some channels are left open as these are backups, tactical, car-to car use or for communicating with the general public.
To encrypt or not to encrypt is the question
Before encryption, media companies used to listen in on the radio for situations that may arise and which may need their attention.
Media companies used to assign a person to listen in and if a good situation arises, they can cover it.
Radio enthusiasts also listen in on the channels, some enthusiast even helped the cops solve crimes by providing info’s to them, but all these came to an end when encryption came.
How do you listen to encrypted police channels?
As we have covered above, that in order to have access to encrypted police channels, you will need to have a radio that’s programmed with the encryption key.
The encryption key is necessary to decrypt the transmission and allow you to listen in.
If you are one of those radio enthusiasts this can be a bummer. With all that said, you can still listen into to the fire service, Utility departments, air crafts and towers which can be interesting as well
So you can’t listen to police encrypted radio unless your radio can de-encrypt it.
Learn about affordable CB radios that can tap onto Police radios.
To sum it all up…
Early police radios used to be analogue, so anybody with a radio hardware can listen, but then they switched to digital format.
With digital radios, radio transmissions were streamed on the internet and this brought about a lot of problems, officers’ safety were compromised so the police around the states decided that it was best to encrypt their radios to keep out unwanted listeners.
But there were legitimate listeners like media companies which do follow ups on situations that arise on the radio, all these weren’t possible when encryption came.
So, the question that we have to answer is, how to listen to encrypted police radio? The answer is, you can’t, unless your radio is programmed with the encryption key (encryptions are hard to break)