Real-time Police Scanner Traffic Ending Next Year

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The Chicago Police Department expects to fully encrypt its radio scanner traffic in 2023 but will allow the Broadcastify service to air calls on a 30-minute delay.

Defending the City’s decision Mayor, Lori Lightfoot said Wednesday, “It’s about officer safety. If it’s unencrypted and there’s access, there’s no way to control criminals who are also gonna get access, listen in, and adjust their criminal behavior in response to the information that’s being communicated.” No examples were given of officers being harmed by people who monitor police scanners.

A coalition of media organizations has asked the mayor to reconsider the decision. Among the reasons is the impact it will have on releasing real-time information to keep the public safe during an emergency.

Moving police communications to encrypted channels are common. Other major cities, including Denver; San Francisco; San Jose, California; Louisville, Kentucky; have already moved to fully encrypted digital radio channels.

Red Line Extension TIF Approved

Calling it an issue of “social justice” and “fairness,” the Chicago City Council greenlit a new plan to finance a southbound extension of the CTA’s Red Line.

Alderpeople approved Wednesday, creating a new transit tax increment financing (TIF) district to bankroll $959 million (26 percent) of the cost to extend the CTA’s Red Line from 95th Street to 130th Street.

The 5.6-mile extension would add four new stations near 103rd Street, 111th Street, Michigan Avenue, and 130th Street. In addition, the rail line would be elevated from 95th Street, where it runs along the highway, and will connect areas such as the Roseland Medical Center and commercial corridor.

“Our community has been disinvested, disenfranchised, and disconnected for a very long time. … We have an opportunity to turn the ship around. … Look deep into your heart and fulfill the promise made 50 years ago,” urged Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), as he opened the debate.  Much of the Red Line extension would be built on Beale’s ward.

The mass transit TIF meets most of the required “local match” for federal New Starts funding the CTA is pursuing in asking the federal government to pick up about 60 percent of the project’s costs.

Gun Violence Survivors Testify In Assault Weapons Ban Hearing

“We ran through bullets all around us in every direction; we ran around pools of blood from unfortunate people who were not be going to their families that day,” said Lauren Bennett from Highland Park. She is recovering from gunshot wounds received during last summer’s mass shooting. Bennett joined other victims of gun violence in testifying in the first hearing on the “Protect Illinois Communities Act” held Monday in Chicago by the House Judiciary Committee.

The proposed legislation was introduced by state Rep. Bob Morgan and includes banning assault weapons, better implementing the state’s Firearm Restraining Order law, raising the minimum age to obtain a FOID card to 21, and addressing illegal gun trafficking.

Democrats who control the General Assembly are positioning a wide-ranging gun law for a vote as early as next month. That follows Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s call for a semi-automatic weapons ban following the Fourth Of July parade massacre that killed seven and injured 30 in Highland Park.

Researchers estimate that assault weapons add 22-36 shooting deaths to the toll of firearm homicides in Illinois each year. 

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