‘Censorship at its purest’: Chicago news outlets blast Mayor Lightfoot for blocking live feeds from police scanners

A coalition of news organizations from crime-stricken Chicago wrote an open letter to viewers on Tuesday accusing Democratic Mayor Lori Lightfoot of “censorship” after she moved to block live transmissions from police scanners, WGN reported -TV.

Lightfoot authorized the city’s Office of Emergency Management and the police department to switch to encrypted radio frequencies to prevent the public from overhearing live police activity.

Since the decision, the news outlet has claimed that Lightfoot has refused to address media concerns.

News organizations in the metro area, including WGN-TV, WBBM-TV, WMAQ-TV, WLS-TV, WFLD, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune, all signed the open letter calling Lightfoot’s new policies “censorship.” designated in its purest form.”

Prior to Lightfoot’s decision, police scanner communications were open to the public. The local news organization argued that not having access to the emergency service’s transmissions would “impair our ability to provide timely, accurate and potentially life-saving news.”

The letter explained that news outlets are using police scanners to alert residents about “everything from traffic congestion to evolving threats to public safety.”

“Last week, in broad daylight, a shooting took place at a Chicago courthouse and police precinct,” the letter said. “The perpetrators fired more than 40 shots and escaped on an expressway. You did not see, hear, or read about this incident when it happened. The City of Chicago prevented you from learning about this dangerous incident by blocking all live scanner transmissions. This endangered the lives of everyone in this police department, everyone in this courthouse, everyone on this freeway.

The coalition of news organizations also argued that live access to police scanner transmissions ensures “transparency and accountability from law enforcement”. The letter said blocking the transmissions went against public demands for more police transparency.

Real-time scanner transmissions have been blocked to minimize disruption, prevent criminals from monitoring law enforcement and protect emergency responders, Chicago officials said.

“Police scanner transmission has been available for decades,” said Steven Mandell, an attorney representing WGN-TV. “Once you encrypt these transmissions, the information layer shuts down, compromising public safety and our ability to oversee the workings of our government.”

In a letter to Mandell, city officials claimed that “real-time access to police radio creates vulnerabilities that pose a serious threat to law enforcement and the public, and which can be exploited by domestic and foreign actors — risks that the… [city] can’t ignore.”

Once the move to scrambled frequencies is complete, the public will only have access to a website that broadcasts Chicago Police Department radio traffic with a 30-minute delay.

The news agencies’ letter concluded, “To borrow the language of the Chicago Supreme Court of Appeals, ‘The newsworthiness of a particular story is often fleeting outright suppression.’ We couldn’t agree more.”

https://www.theblaze.com/news/censorship-in-its-purest-form-chicago-news-outlets-slam-mayor-lightfoot-for-blocking-live-police-scanner-transmissions ‘Censorship at its purest’: Chicago news outlets blast Mayor Lightfoot for blocking live feeds from police scanners

Laura Coffey

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