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New Bill Would Allow Media To Access Police Scanners

Illinois is looking at new legislation that would require any law enforcement agency in Illinois that encrypts police scanner transmissions to provide real-time access to those transmissions to all accredited media in the state.


A new bill, HB 4339 being proposed by State Representative LaShawn Ford, amends the Public Records Act to require that any law enforcement agency that encrypts radio transmissions provide access to those transmissions to FCC-licensed broadcasters and accredited newspapers.


Representative Ford says he understands the desire to prevent members of the public from using scanners to commit crimes or to evade law enforcement, however, he says the media must report on events promptly, and getting information from scanners is essential. Ford continued by stressing that blocking media from real-time access is counter to governmental transparency and doesn’t support the original stated purpose of the program. 


Ford says that his proposed legislation would apply to jurisdictions across Illinois.  Several downstate law enforcement departments have instituted encryption programs including Christian County.

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