Thoughts on live feeds for PDs?

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n1zyy
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Thoughts on live feeds for PDs?

Post by n1zyy »

The Lowell feeds at Broadcastify recently went offline, so I was thinking I'd set one up. I got looking at what else I can receive well here that doesn't have a feed, and the majority of them were police departments rather than fire. I can't tell if that's just because more PDs are P25 and not as many people have digital-capable scanners they're willing to devote to a feed, or if people are intentionally not setting up PD feeds.

I'm curious what the sentiment is here, as a group friendly to public safety. On one hand, I think it's good for the public to know what's happening, and that there are lots of examples of law-abiding citizens indirectly helping out with a search or whatnot as they're on the road. On the other hand, I'm sure not everyone listening has pure motives, and I'd also hate to contribute to police departments feeling like they need to move towards encryption.

Anyone have opinions here? (I think I'm secretly hoping for encouragement that PD feeds are fine to set up, but I'm genuinely interested in hearing any input.)
Matt, N1ZYY ★ Lowell, MA

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Scott
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Re: Thoughts on live feeds for PDs?

Post by Scott »

One opinion. NEVER provide a feed that is exclusive to one police department. Such a feed allows end-users to monitor EVERY transmission a department makes and can be used for nefarious purposes. Some departments choose to offer "official" feeds of their department's operation but that puts things squarely on their shoulders. No private individual should EVER provide such a feed.

The above, combined with the lack of education and general misconception of how multi-channel feeds actually work for the end-user, are definite contributors to the move to encryption, not only by police departments but also by any other number of entities. In my opinion.
Scott
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n1zyy
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Re: Thoughts on live feeds for PDs?

Post by n1zyy »

Scott wrote:
20 Jul 2021 11:10
One opinion. NEVER provide a feed that is exclusive to one police department. Such a feed allows end-users to monitor EVERY transmission a department makes and can be used for nefarious purposes. Some departments choose to offer "official" feeds of their department's operation but that puts things squarely on their shoulders. No private individual should EVER provide such a feed.
I was actually thinking about the idea of official police feeds. I'm not aware of any, but it seems like it could be a good idea. It keeps someone else from setting it up, but would also allow them to turn it off if something sensitive was happening (e.g., barricaded suspect or whatnot). I think even a really determined feed admin is going to listen a lot less than 24/7 and won't be able to take it offline if something that shouldn't be heard comes up. It might also dissuade criminals from buying an actual scanner.

It's tough because I largely agree, but also find multi-channel feeds infuriating at times. I remember streaming Cape Cod PDs when Ofc. Gannon was shot (RIP), and in the midst of it you'd hear another department going off on a traffic stop or whatnot. I suppose that's good for operational security, but it's surreal and maddening when you're listening, praying everything turns out OK, and entirely irrelevant stuff keeps coming up.
Matt, N1ZYY ★ Lowell, MA

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Scott
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Re: Thoughts on live feeds for PDs?

Post by Scott »

There are many official police feeds at Radio Reference. There are also many unofficial dedicated police feeds there which again in my opinion is a very bad and irresponsible decision by the feed provider. Can the PD do anything about making them cease? I don't know, that's a tough one.

CoMIRS is coming to a location near all of us MA users soon, and is already there for many. I for one would like to continue to be able to listen to the day to day operations of departments. I am also a firm supporter that any covert/surveillance type operations should be encrypted. Data concerning them has never been allowed at this website, and never will. If they are ever included as part of a feed, that is as bad as it gets and I believe is a violation of terms at RR.

I think that departments need to familiarize themselves with just how feeds that have multiple channels work. I don't think they understand that the end user has no way to hold on their frequency or talkgroup. It is a hot button topic, and Motorola salesmen are good at what they do, one of those things being selling of encryption. In this day and age I don't believe we as hobbyists need to contribute to the decision to encrypt by acting in an irresponsible manner.
Scott
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ecps92
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Re: Thoughts on live feeds for PDs?

Post by ecps92 »

Totally understand the Multiple agency feed, being frustrating when as a casual listener you are trying to keep track of the big incident, but as Scott says, having multiple keeps the Bad Guy from hearing it all from the dedicated channel, when it alternates between PD/FD , Town 1, Town 2, Town 3

But then when the outside [Non Eagle Tribune etc] News is listening and begins reporting based on what is/or is not correctly heard, then rumors begin.
One of our members shut down his feed during the Marathon bombing search in Watertown.

Some of the the national media outlets reported what they heard, but it turned out to be from a different channel and unrelated..
One reason to now have Tactical channels, but then BAPERN or Metro Fire are mutual aid, but could become tactical.... owners need to be able to disconnect if they become aware of a problem

And there are many Official Feeds, either thru the PD/FD's own web pages, but also thru Broadcastify and other apps

Heck, my former local PD could be heard [audio] on the Local town Cable channel for many years.
Need to check next time I am over the parents to see if they still do it.

n1zyy wrote:
20 Jul 2021 11:35
I was actually thinking about the idea of official police feeds. I'm not aware of any, but it seems like it could be a good idea. It keeps someone else from setting it up, but would also allow them to turn it off if something sensitive was happening (e.g., barricaded suspect or whatnot). I think even a really determined feed admin is going to listen a lot less than 24/7 and won't be able to take it offline if something that shouldn't be heard comes up. It might also dissuade criminals from buying an actual scanner.

It's tough because I largely agree, but also find multi-channel feeds infuriating at times. I remember streaming Cape Cod PDs when Ofc. Gannon was shot (RIP), and in the midst of it you'd hear another department going off on a traffic stop or whatnot. I suppose that's good for operational security, but it's surreal and maddening when you're listening, praying everything turns out OK, and entirely irrelevant stuff keeps coming up.
Bill Dunn N1KUG
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http://scanmaritime.com

"The tougher it is to find a frequency, the more it makes me want to work to find it. - I've learned to use the SEARCH Button"

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n1zyy
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Re: Thoughts on live feeds for PDs?

Post by n1zyy »

Thanks for this feedback. I think it's changed what I was going to do.

Over time I've grown to really hate hearing MDC squawks on every transmission and correspondingly grown to be a snob for commercial gear that supports DOS muting. I was originally thinking that I would set up an LFD feed with an old GM300 or CDM750 or something, which would necessitate a separate feed for PD. (I can do that off an SDR.) But you've convinced me a dedicated PD-only feed is probably inviting trouble. (To their credit, Lowell PD already handles this well, with a separate full-time encrypted "Tac 2" used for sensitive stuff. But I still don't want to be a thorn in their side.)

I haven't quite figured out what I will do just yet, though... Whether I should set up a combined feed of some sort of just keep listening on my own radios and not stream anything. But you've dissuaded me from setting up a PD-only feed.
Matt, N1ZYY ★ Lowell, MA

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Re: Thoughts on live feeds for PDs?

Post by jbella »

In this day and age, oversight is just as important as comsec, not because the police are necessarily doing anything wrong, it promotes what they are doing right. Encryption, lack of feeds, missing bits of transmissions are just as harmful as they are supposedly beneficial. An informed public (yes, laughable in this day and age, call me naive) including the press can refute and rebut inaccuracies and falsehoods accusing police of wrong acts. And a 'just' police department has nothing to fear from a feed.

Encryption has it's place in tactical comms, but not everyday patrol.

And yes Motorola salesmen are some of type best liars, errrrr truth stretchers I've ever seen.

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