TOMS RIVER: Earlier this morning users subscribed to the Ocean County Sheriff, Toms River PD & OEM, and other government agencies text-based NIXLE service were alerted to non-existent police activity. The text alerted to unspecified police activity in a unspecified location/area. Clearly this was sent out in error with nothing filled in as nothing was happening. Moments later- the error was caught and a subsequent alert was sent to disregard the last alert- but to call police should you need them. Then again, a third alert goes out over Nixle reminding everyone there is NO Police Activity going on in Toms River- The Nixle was sent in error. Even OCSN had nothing out of the ordinary working around this time- there was an incident on the Garden State Parkway in Toms River that OCSN alerted more of an audience to in a more timely and appropriate manner. We even had the photos, mile marker, and direction to warn everyone using the road- but we need to keep that information secret- sssh! But hey, you guys love that encryption right- how dare we share real time occurrence of events (heard over scanners) to make our citizens aware?
Then the tirade goes on- The Ocean County Sheriff Communications sends out an alert indicating that the whole department will be moving to a new platform- as in Nixle is FIRED! Meanwhile this whole mystery non-existent unspecified alert originated from the Toms River Office of Emergency Management. Sounds like Sheriff Mastronardy is pissed- and he demands a new Community Alert platform ASAP! Then like magic in the sky- a new set of alerts begin indicating subscribers that effective May 1st (of unknown year, assumed 2021?) OC Sheriff is moving to the RAVE ALERT system. After that message the instructions begin to appear to walk us through signing up for the RAVE ALERT system to continue to get all pertinent information from Sheriff Mike and his crew- along with all other agencies that use community platform systems. Often times OCSN is faster, but we are limited in our capabilities for many reasons- and making citizens aware of active events and happenings in their communities is all positive things in a world of transparency. Please do sign up for the new RAVE ALERT system and we only hope it entails Sheriff Mastronardy delivering the news in a Rave style costume, as in he is dancing at an all-night Rave in Vegas.
Before we go for now, a quick word on scanners and encryption and police transparency. In the world and of a public demanding accountability from their governmental officials, police, fire, and other agencies now more than ever- it is high time we revisit excessive use of encryption on police dispatch channels. With modern radio systems and capabilities, all paid for by our tax dollars, there are ways to allocate multiple channels with varying levels of encryption. Encryption plainly means the departments, like Toms River Police, purposely and voluntarily scrambling their channels and frequencies- kind of like some of you remember watching porn on cable after 22:00 in the 1990s. That means OCSN- and everyone else who can buy a legal scanner- can not listen to that channel or frequency. This is a good thing when used with transparency in design- we do not want sensitive information like SWAT, Undercover, or any other types of communications that could jeopardize officer safety picked up by “bad guys” listening to scanners in their hands- or over the internet. We here at OCSN get that- and encourage departments to solely leave dispatch channel(s) open with NO encryption- and switch to encrypted channels when the public has no business hearing the conversation. That is the real world approach to this- and legislation in Colorado has been introduced three times to outlaw the use of encryption on public dispatch channels in their state- it keeps getting rejected. Of course the Police Chief Unions and others keep spreading the propaganda of evil scanner listeners hearing what is happening int heir own towns- you know us nosy losers living in our parent’s basements. They throw around that magic “Officer Safety” term and everyone caves in with zero regard to the transparency aspect to this. One of you politicians in Trenton might sniff around the law books and see if this is even legal- as tax dollars fund ALL these department radio systems?
So it is clear to you all that us here at Ocean County Scanner news demand the end of encryption on public airwaves in regard to dispatch channels. It is time that all of us whom vote connect police transparency with public access to communications on certain channels via scanners and receivers- and demand no encryption. Officer Safety is not a catch all to allow departments to do and say what they wish with zero regard to transparency and accountability. We already have OPRA- Open Public Records Act laws here in New Jersey- we need to merge them in with encryption laws too.
We leave you all here with our good friend Sheriff Mastronardy. We met with him back in the early design phases of the new Ocean County 700 MHz radio system. He is such a man of his word, and he promised OCSN that dispatch channels for the departments using his new system will remain unencrypted- with the secondary “mobile” channels using encryption should they need it. Certainly a fair compromise- and that’s one reason we support his campaigns. There is more to it, but most of you are likely sleeping by now. We will revisit this later, but you all can begin arguing about this for now.
Sheriff Golden in Monmouth County offers no such compromise- just 100% encryption on ALL police channels there. Shame on him!