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People losing access to real-time police radio traffic in Hendricks County

PLAINFIELD, Ind. (WISH) — People in Hendricks County are losing access to real-time police radio traffic.

Dispatchers inside the Hendricks County Communications Center direct law enforcement to where they need to go. You can listen to that radio traffic in real time.

On Monday, that radio traffic will be encrypted and released on a 15-minute delay.

The Plainfield town government oversees the Hendricks County Communications Center. Plainfield officials declined an on-camera interview Friday, but said in a statement:

“The delayed encryption was established to support officer safety, mission integrity and protection of personal and victim information. This effort is consistent with radio traffic changeovers throughout the country. The Town of Plainfield and the Hendricks County Communications Center values transparency and cooperation with the public and media partners.”

Professor Anthony Fargo, who is the director of the Center for International Media Law at Indiana University, said, “I see pros and cons to this sort of a policy.”

In the pro column of this move, he said scanner traffic “can sometimes lead to wrong information going out, or people panicking about something that turns out to be nothing.”

By delaying the release of the radio traffic, that problem could go away with social media updates to the public from police.

Fargo also sees cons to the move. “I worry a little bit about if that’s the start of a slippery slope toward making this information harder to get than it already is.”

I-Team 8 tried speaking with dozens of residents in Hendricks County on Friday about this situation. None of them wanted to comment on the record. Some declined to comment because they didn’t know enough about the situation. Others said they didn’t want to comment because it didn’t impact them.

I-Team 8 asked Fargo why people in Hendricks County should care about this situation, which is not unique to Indiana. “I think primarily the big concern I have is this going to delay you from learning about an emergency situation that you might need to know about.”

Similar situations have played out in other counties where police have moved to encrypted communications.

Fargo said the jury is still out on if the moves are effective. “We don’t really have enough data yet to know whether it’s working out or not.”

I-Team 8 reached out to multiple law enforcement agencies in Hendricks County on Friday about this story. All of them declined to comment and forwarded us to the Plainfield administrators who provided the statement included in this story.