26 September 2005

Homeland Security is Dictating How Police Communicate

Homeland Security is dictating that local law enforcement abandon the old numerical codes in favor of plain language because police forces use different codes.

Whence the authority?

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

The pursestrings...

Matt said...

Yep. The article indicates that it's a spending power thing: You have to play ball to get federal emergency management money.

KG2V said...

Yep - purse strings

The main reason is interoperability - look up the "Incident Command System" and the "National Incident Management System" (ICS and NIMS). One HUGE problem with working with other departments is that "10 codes" do NOT mean the same thing everywhere - plus, even in the same area, different goups can have different "10 codes" NYC as an example - the 10 codes for Fire, Police, and Transit are not the same - now picture you respond to a fire in the subway - when the train dispatcher uses a 10 code, it can mean 3 different things to 3 different people!!

markm said...

Different 10-codes might be a good thing - assuming there are some things police have to talk about on the radio that they don't want every TV reporter and criminal with a radio scanner understanding. I'm not sure how effective the codes are in keeping secrets, but they'd be utterly ineffective if there was a single nationwide system, or even a single system covering a metro area.

Of course, in an ideal world (say, one where we didn't spend billions locking up low-level drug offenders) the PDs might have a few more bucks to spend on radios that encrypt the messages when needed. They could talk in plain English all the time, and turn on encryption only if it was more important to keep a secret than to ensure that other services got the message.

Matt said...

Honestly, in this day and age I'd think encryption would be an absolute necessity anyway. If the bad guys were smart, they could cause a great deal of trouble simply by hopping on the local emergency responder frequency and transmitting bogus commands and/or disinformation in the midst of a crisis. (Might not work in a small town where all the emergency responders know one another's voices, but in a big city . . . ?) Or, come to think of it, they could simply hold down the transmit key and effectively jam the good guys' communications. (Used to do this to my Marines during drills all the time. They hated it.) So I guess frequency-hopping capability would also be a good idea.

Perhaps I'm getting carried away . . .

Anonymous said...

It's about federal consolidation of power. He who has the power, gets the money!

I predict that within the next 50 years there won't be any state courts, state police, or local courts or law enforcement of any kind. It will all be Federalized! Already, criminal law is being pirated by the Feds and nobody is complaining at all, regardless of the fact that it is not even in their jurisdiction.