Opinion: Ending radio silence was the right move
By Editor Dave Price
The Palo Alto Police Department has taken a step in the right direction in announcing that it will be dropping the encryption of its radios...
This will enable the public and news media to once again hear the activities of police.
Since the 1940s, people have been able to buy a police radio or police scanner and listen to dispatch calls of police. The government, after all, is supposed to be the servant of the people, and the people have every right to monitor the activities of their government.
But in recent years, government at all levels has become less transparent. In January 2021, then Palo Alto Police Chief Bob Jonsen decided to encrypt his department’s radios. The media and public got only an hour’s notice of his decision.
The decision never went to City Council. You’d expect that in a town like Palo Alto, where we have long debates about city policy, that something as important as police transparency would have been the subject of a public hearing.
The decision was made without considering the alternatives...
There are many who should be singled out for their advocacy of the public’s right to know. They include:
- Palo Alto City Councilman Greer Stone, who fearlessly argued to end encryption.
- State Sen. Josh Becker, who introduced Senate Bill 1000 that would ban encryption statewide. Becker isn’t afraid to go against the tide in pursuit of good government.