The NYPD has communicated via public channels for nearly a century. Now the system is being encrypted
A crackle, a chirp and the voice of a dispatcher describing an unfolding crisis in rapid-fire code. For nearly a century, New York City police have communicated about crime and catastrophe over radio broadcasts on public channels. And for journalists and the public, these dispatches have been a reliable way to get real-time knowledge of what’s happening in one of the world’s most chaotic cities.
Now the NYPD is encrypting these channels for the first time in its history – an “upgrade” expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars before it’s completed in December 2024. Over the summer, police began scrambling the channels for certain precincts, leaving anyone listening in with white noise.