News3 News Now Investigators

Actions

Full interview: Why Omaha Police might cut access to police radios

Five channels are currently open to the public and unencrypted
Posted at 1:51 PM, Aug 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-03 14:51:45-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — People who follow the police scanner for up-to-date information on how to stay safe could soon wait longer if the Omaha Police Department changes its radio approach.

Department spokesman Lt. Neal Bonacci confirmed to 3 News Now Investigators that Omaha police are considering making its main public police radio channels private. He said such a decision, if made, would take “that open or public access away.”

Bonacci said reporters were getting ahead of those internal discussions, describing internal talks as preliminary. Other officers told us off-camera that they were farther along than that, that the change could take place within a matter of months.

Learn more: Could Omaha Police scanners go silent to the listening public?

Open-government advocates, including ACLU Nebraska, argue police should embrace transparency to build trust. The police union has said it would support fully encrypting the public radio channels to reduce the chances of suspects fleeing before officers arrive and to avoid potential ambushes.

The people behind social media sites like Omaha Scanner and Lincoln-Lancaster County Scanner said they worry what the public might be missing.

Bonacci sat down with 3 News Now Investigator Aaron Sanderford weeks after the station started filing public records requests about the potential change. Here is more from the interview:

Full interview: Why Omaha Police want to cut off public access to police radios

Download our apps today for all of our latest coverage.

Get the latest news and weather delivered straight to your inbox

Contact our investigative team