Sheriff Lombardo plans to encrypt all LVMPD radio traffic to block public monitoring

Laura Loomer has learned that Las Vegas Sheriff Joe Lombardo is planning to encrypt the radio communications for LVMPD in an effort to block the public from monitoring and recording transmissions

According to a source within the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD), Sheriff Lombardo discussed his plans to encrypt LVMPD police radio transmissions during a recent meeting with top Metro law enforcement officials, noting the need for Metro to change their radio transmission system in the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting on October 1st, 2017.

During the Las Vegas shooting, recordings of police transmissions uploaded online were essential to the public’s independent investigation and understanding of the attack, as well as the corroboration of information being reported by city officials in the few press conferences held by LVMPD and FBI in the days following the shooting.

On the night of the Las Vegas shooting, people from all around the world tuned into Broadcastify, “the world’s largest source of public safety, aircraft, rail, and marine radio live audio streams” to listen to the horror unfold live as police and emergency services responded to the scene of the Route 91 country music festival. By listening to the Broadcastify transmissions of the LVMPD police radio, citizens and journalists were able to post live updates of the shooting on social media when authorities could not give immediate answers to the public about what was taking place inside the concert grounds and the Mandalay Bay Resort. Hundreds of videos on YouTube have since been posted by MSM news outlets, independent journalists, and intuitive citizens that document and examine the police scanner audio from the night of the shooting.

The motive behind Lombardo’s recent interest in encrypting Metro’s radio transmissions is questionable since these discussions come only three months following the worst mass shooting in U.S.history.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if the Las Vegas casinos are pressuring Lombardo to encrypt the radio systems since on the night of the Las Vegas shooting, the public heard officers on the scanners saying there were multiple shooters at other casinos. This is now impacting the public’s perception of the Las Vegas shooting investigation and the reputation of some Las Vegas casinos,” said one Las Vegas law enforcement official.

By restricting access to the unfiltered police radio communications, the public will be needlessly deprived of the tools necessary to hold law enforcement personnel accountable, and crippled from effectively gathering intel during future emergency situations and disasters.

However, other sources in law enforcement are in favor of Lombardo’s encryption plans, arguing that public transmissions of police radios create a public safety issue. A Las Vegas law enforcement source privy to the discussions who wished to remain anonymous added,

“From a law enforcement perspective, encrypting the radio transmissions is a good idea. For example, if you’re going to execute a law enforcement operation against a dangerous or violent organization, it is crucial for law enforcement to always maintain the element of surprise. That would make radio encryption beneficial.”

However, citizen journalists and cop watch organizations who rely on platforms like Boradcastify to hold law enforcement accountable and keep the public updated are generally opposed to the encryption of police radio transmissions. One source who operates a community watch program in Las Vegas expressed their contempt for Lombardo’s desire to cut the public off from the Metro’s radio.

“The public should be in the loop and have access to police scanners, especially when you look at a Sheriff like Joe Lombardo who has a proven track record of corruption. He wants to cut the public off from the information we are entitled to, and encryption will only allow him to further pick and choose what he discloses to the public. People need to realize that having access to police scanners serves their best interest, and it’s a liberty everyone should have.”

LVMPD has operated with unencrypted radios for many years, and the timing is suspect now that they want to move towards radio encryption after the Las Vegas shooting. Shepard Ambellas, an independent journalist and the Editor in Chief of Intellihub says he’s spent over 100 hours listening to and transcribing the police scanner audio from the night of the Las Vegas shooting.

“The police department and FBI are obviously scared of the public having access to the police communications because so much evidence went out over the airways that suggests there were multiple shooters. Now that the information from the scanners is logged, SAC Aaron Rouse can’t counter what people heard. Encrypting the police radios in Las Vegas is just another attempt by authorities to transform Las Vegas into a police state,” said Ambellas.

It is worth noting that Lombardo doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to managing police radio systems. When he was Assistant Sheriff, Lombardo oversaw the Las Vegas police Radio Systems Bureau, and was responsible for the shoddy $42 million Desert Sky radio system for LVMPD which proved to be extremely problematic, costly to taxpayers in Nevada, and is attributed to the death of Stanley Gibson, a disabled black veteran in Las Vegas who was tragically gunned down by Metro officers when they experienced a failure with their radio system.

Encryption of police radios is a topic not often discussed or thought about by the average person. However, these new revelations about Lombardo’s internal discussions are guaranteed to spark a public debate between law enforcement who want to enhance their safety on the job, and the public and media who both rely on publicly available information to uphold high levels of transparency and accountability from authorities and elected officials.

Loomer reached out to the LVMPD PIO for comment regarding this report via phone and email, but they declined to comment.

Via Medium

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Featured Image: Kevin Walter/Flickr