Editor's Note

Editor’s Note: Save the Keep Public Police Radio Act

The bill failed to pass the Assembly, just as the NYPD plans to go full encryption by the end of the year, leaving New Yorkers and the press in the dark.

NYPD radio will go silent by the end of the year.

NYPD radio will go silent by the end of the year. Rudy Von Briel/Getty Images

The Assembly at the end of session failed to pass a bill introduced by state Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris and Assembly Member Karines Reyes that would have preserved the public’s ability to monitor police radio transmissions. As a journalist, I can’t argue enough the value of being able to monitor police radio. While a young reporter in Florida in the 1990s, I monitored crime and emergencies when there was no internet or social media, including when a single engine plane landed on a major highway. (No one was injured.) Later as a Daily News reporter, police radio pointed me to those “only-in-New-York” stories, including when cops ran into a 400-pound tiger inside a Harlem apartment

Allowing the public to monitor police radio also provides a level of transparency that shows the New York City Police Department has nothing to hide. However, the NYPD is still moving forward with fully encrypted radio communications by the end of 2024. Their argument for going silent? “The bad guys listen,” said photographer Todd Maisel, founder of the New York Media Consortium, a journalism and transparency group opposed to police radio encryption, and former News colleague. I asked Maisel what our work would have been like without police radio. “There were things we wouldn't have known, like Eric Garner, and Sean Bell, and Amadou Diallo,” he said, mentioning the victims of what became high-profile police killings. It’s disturbing to think of a world where accurate reporting of those tragedies wouldn’t have happened. Hopefully, the Keep Police Radio Public Act will see a new life, but it may not be in time to stop the NYPD from going silent.