Scanner hobbyists who enjoy monitoring law enforcement radio traffic will find themselves receiving static when trying to tune in Riverside County sheriff’s broadcasts after Jan. 1.
According to the Riverside County Department of Information Technology, the Public Safety Enterprise Communication System that will be activated in the new year utilizes signal encryption that will prevent the general public from hearing what’s being transmitted or received, much like a satellite channel that cannot be accessed without a passkey.
A county official told City News Service that the PSEC equipment has to be custom programmed before any of the sheriff’s channels can be picked up.
Currently, sheriff’s radio traffic can be tuned in using a variety of over-the-counter scanners.
The PSEC system, a $143 million project initiated in 2007, will replace the analog radio communication network in place at the sheriff’s department for
“The PSEC system will bridge previous communication gaps and perform to the nationwide standards set by the Association of Public Safety Communications,” according to sheriff’s statement released last week. ”In essence, Riverside County first responders will have enhanced levels of
interoperability with other police and fire agencies throughout the county,including surrounding counties and other areas of Southern California.”
Motorola built the PSEC digital network, which, unlike the existing system, is not impeded by terrain, buildings and other “blind spots” that can leave deputies without the means to communicate with dispatchers and each other.
According to a report by county Chief Information Officer Kevin Crawford, the new system boasts 95 percent reliability, meaning that for every 100 communication streams, only 5 will be interrupted or delayed.
The PSEC network covers about 86 percent of the 7,300-square-mile county, and users can seamlessly tap four separate voice and data channels,
including a 4.9 GHz broadband stream for real-time delivery of information.
Officials say the new system will permit firefighters and law enforcement personnel to connect with ease, as well as personnel from other agencies, including animal control, the District Attorney’s Office and the Department of Public Health.
Media outlets will be afforded the opportunity to lease pre-programmed digital scanners from the sheriff’s department.