Hat tip to Charlotte in SoCal who alerted me to this — happening in my own back yard in Florida. It came with this comment from Jeff who lives in Jacksonville:
I just wanted to put the word out there about something that I feel is proof positive that things are getting bad fast now. I feel this is the worse loss of freedom we have encountered to date and proof that something big is happening.
The Jacksonville Florida Sheriffs Department is one of the largest departments in the Southeastern United States, with over 3,600 employees. This week they contacted all of the News Channels in Jacksonville and told them they must turn in all of their Police Scanners. They were told the Department of Homeland Defense has ordered this.
Even though this article at the bottom of the page does not mention Homeland Defense, my local news talk radio station, AM 690, did report that the order came down from them.
Jacksonville Florida Sheriffs Department are also in the process of changing all of their call codes as well. There are five local TV channels , they have all been ordered to turn in their scanners as well as the radio channels and also the newspapers. Now no one will now know what they are doing or saying.
Even our News Anchors on the local channels are visibly upset by these events, they have told the public that they must now rely on them and have all set up phone lines dedicated to receive news from the public and are asking people to please call in anything news worthy because like they said, it can now take hours or even days to report the news to people.
I am sending this out for two reasons, to let you all know what is happening here and to also ask you if this is going on in your area of the country. Please let me know if it is going on only here so far or rather if this is nation wide. Please feel free to send this as far and wide as possible.
Controlled media in Jacksonville
By Kevin Rincon
Jacksonville, FL — As of Thursday the flow of your information will be filtered, it’ll be delayed and what we report to you will be handpicked.
For the first time ever in Jacksonville police radio traffic will be completely closed off to the public. Six years ago JSO began operating under encrypted radio frequencies, a result of 9/11.
When that change occurred a way to keep the public in the know was to provide those radios to the media. Last month a policy decision was made to take those back. At the time the only reason cited was a budgetary concern.
We asked a former public information officer at JSO, Ken Jefferson if this decision would limit access to the public’s information, he says it would.
“It will certainly enable them to control the flow of information because you don’t have the scanners to listen to them as it comes out,” says Jefferson. Without the ability to hear it in real time, “as its happening you’re going to have to rely on them.”
When we asked several council members for their take most were unaware of what this one policy decision by Sheriff Rutherford would actually mean. John Crescimbeni told us, “I don’t think the public realizes what’s happening.”
Most of the elected officials we talked to said there’s nothing they can do because the JSO is its own constitutional office. So that one small policy decision that will impact you is being passed with no public input, no public comments, no hearings and required only one person’s approval.
Crescimbeni did admit this decision is suspect, “When I see people trying to heighten that sense of secrecy, I have concerns about that.”
From here on out after Thursday, the sheriff’s office will determine when and how we find out about what is going on right here in Jacksonville, which in turn will affect how you find out about what’s going on in your neighborhood, not just through WOKV but through print, on TV and online.
So far the announcement that the radios will be taken back, that’s gotten mixed reviews, some people are fine with JSO having that control, “I think controlling the message is imperative in situations that involve, a serial killer is a beautiful example, when you release too much information, they know what the police are looking for so I think there needs to be some sort of control.” Kristina Meade told us this seems to be a double edged sword but she’ll side with the sheriff’s decision.
In a situation like that one or in any high stakes investigation JSO switches over to its tactical channels, ones we’ve never had access to.
If there is control of your information it’ll happen across the board.
The other side of it from you the public has been that this is a government agency cutting a line of communication.
“I’m not saying JSO is a bad organization or anything but it’s always good to be able to see things from many different directions and form your own opinion then it is to get things from a single source,” says Tom Harding, “because then you really don’t know the whole story.”
Harding says, in his opinion this is the first step towards a controlled media, “Because as far as I understand it, you all aren’t going to get any information unless its handed to you by the police . . . what would distinguish us from the Chinese at that point?”
Whether it’s an issue of control or anything else the sheriff has made it clear this is a policy decision that will not be reviewed.