The media says the police department is just trying to conceal its activities

The Pasadena Police Department has been blocking local media from listening in on its new radio signal, which is now digitally encrypted.

On January 7, the Pasadena Police Department switched from the traditional analog radio signal to a digitally encrypted signal, which doesn't allow the media to listen to the latest going-ons in the city. City staff said they'd consider loaning out a digital scanner to local media, but the police department has been making it difficult to obtain.

According to the police department, the digital scanners are being withheld because of officer safety.

"People who do bank robberies use scanners, and Radio Shack sells these things cheap," said Pasadena Police Lt. Phlunte Riddle. "We just had a robbery today on Hill Avenue and Washington Boulevard. The last thing I want to do is have the helicopter or the officers set up on the street and the criminals have a scanner and know where our officers are."

Local media has been outraged at the Pasadena Police Department's handling of the situation, since many local outlets depend on that scanner to cover news. Some media outlets are claiming that police officers are simply trying to conceal their day-to-day activities by holding back the digital scanners.

"This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard of," Steve Hunt, senior editor of Pasadena Star-News. "I am continually amazed by the Pasadena Police Department's disregard for the right of the public to be aware of what they are doing."

The Pasadena Police Department said it's not trying to conceal anything, but would prefer the media to use Public Records Requests to obtain information instead. However, these requests can be time-consuming or even denied.

"It is not our intention to reduce the level of transparency of the Pasadena Police Department's operations," said Phillip Sanchez, Pasadena police chief. "There has been absolutely no restriction made on the public or the media from filing Public Records Requests. We are required to provide copies of requested transmissions in a timely fashion, but we ask the public to understand that there are no laws that require public safety to make transmissions available in real time. Transparency is a primary mission of the City of Pasadena."

The need to keep police activity in check has become increasingly important. For instance, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) investigated Raleigh, North Carolina police to see if license plate scanning violated privacy rights. Also, there were issues last year with police arresting citizens for taping them while on duty, potentially using footage of unprofessional activity against them.

More recently, the Supreme Court ruled that police cannot invade property or track citizens without a warrant.

Source: Pasadena Star-News

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