The Albany Police Department is investing $250,000 in a radio encryption system that will render scanners such as these useless for picking up police communications.
ALBANY, Ga. -- Trying to follow Albany Police Department radio transmissions on a scanner available from retail electronics stores will become useless in the future.
The object is to keep officers safe while keeping the criminals in the dark about where the police are headed and when they'll get there, said police Chief John Proctor.
"My officers are on the road and engage with people every day," Proctor said. "It is about not allowing specific people to not listen to scanners, specifically criminals."
Proctor and every law enforcement official spoken to had a description of scanners interfering with the safe enforcement of the law. At times criminals have bragged about how lucky police were to catch them. Why lucky?
Lucky because on previous occasions the scanner told the criminals the police were on their way and the criminals ran away.
A video of a burglary at a car dealership a couple years ago showed the burglar with a scanner hanging from his waist as he stole from the dealership, Proctor said. The video aided in the burglar's capture.
Proctor plans to equip his officers with a $250,000 radio encryption system. The cost would be covered by special-prupose local-option sales tax funds.
In a few months when the encryption system is implemented, the Dougherty County Police Department and Sheriff's Office will not be left without communications, Proctor said. There is a system in place for communications between the three organizations' patrols, he added.
Sheriff Kevin Sproul and DCPD Chief Jackie Battles have heard about the coming change to radio communication for a couple years. They said after receiving estimates on changing their departments over, they would ask the Dougherty County Commission for SPLOST money to modify equipment.
Area law enforcement agencies often respond together to dangerous situations, such as armed robberies or other violent crimes.
Albany is following an encryption trend in Georgia, perhaps the entire country, said Frank Rotundo, executive director of the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police.
"Many police departments in Georgia are going to encryption," Rotundo said. "It is about the safety of officers."
Albany City Commission recognized the need for the encryption and approved the funding from the one-penny sales tax fund.
"I voted for it. I am for anything that serves to help police safety and the fight against crime," said Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard. "I don't want criminals to hear what police are doing."