Encrypted radio program not planned for the region

June 23 – Local agencies say there are no plans to encrypt their radio traffic, although several agencies across the state make the decision.

Million-dollar funding for a new digital radio system was approved by Stillwater City Council in December, and the fire department announced plans to fully encrypt radio traffic for security purposes once new equipment will be available.

Tahlequah Fire Chief Casey Baker said in his experience with encrypted radios, it’s something law enforcement typically uses, especially SWAT teams.

“It’s so they can give them their location and different things without the suspect knowing they’re coming in,” Baker said.

Baker worked in law enforcement for 20 years and served as captain of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office. He said they used encrypted radio traffic for special units at one time.

“When I was in the sheriff’s office, we used them when we were working with federal authorities with undercover operations and different things,” Baker said.

The idea behind encrypted radio traffic is that it protects officers and preserves the privacy of residents.

Baker said he has no problem with encryption, but believes in transparency and the public has a right to know what the agencies are doing.

“The ones we have in the fire department, we have an intrinsically safe radio, which means if we’re near any type of thing that can cause a reaction with the frequency or the signal goes off, and that’s It’s usually on our hazardous materials unit,” says Boulanger.

Sheriff Jason Chennault said there were no plans for encrypted radio traffic, and Tahlequah Police Chief Nate King said he had not been involved in any discussions about it.

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