LA-RICS Radio System Construction Update

Drill rigs and concrete trucks crawl up mountaintops at the break of dawn, forming silhouettes along LA basin and northern desert hillsides. Delivery trucks loaded with tower steel and heavy earth moving machinery mark the start of 2018 in grandiose fashion for the Land Mobile Radio (LMR) construction throughout LA County.

“Construction activities over the last month have picked-up significantly since Q4 2017.” said Deputy Program Manager Justin Delfino.  The uptick in construction spending is expected to rise and remain constant through the Spring of 2018 since a large batch of sites were eligible for build-out and weather has not been a constraining factor. 

The overall build-out plan for the LMR network entails a completion of 60 sites by the year 2020. When fully deployed, the network will provide coverage to public safety users in the entire County of Los Angeles, including the Los Angeles Basin, the Los Angeles Coastline, the Angeles National Forest, and Santa Catalina Island.

The LMR system will provide interoperable radio communications between LA County regional emergency responders and all member agencies, and has been designed to work seamlessly with the existing Public Safety Broadband Network (LTE System). The network will deliver new features to emergency responders via the push-to-talk functionality, and exploit the opportunity for newly developed applications and technologies making emergency responders even more efficient and safer while on the job.

Behind the scenes, the LMR RF Design and Backhaul Engineering Teams have undergone the final stages of planning and completed the network design for all system sites. Path surveys have been completed on all microwave links, verifying line-of-sight connectivity between land mobile radio towers. Procurement of radio equipment is a process that will span the duration of the site construction phase.  The LMR Project Team plans to test and turn up equipment for initial testing as sites draw to completion and will test the network regionally prior to testing the system as a whole. 

Credit: LA-RICS Network Newsletter


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San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Radios Now Digital Encrypted

The following is a statement from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department:

Effective February 1, 2018, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department radios will switch from analog to an encrypted digital communication system. The improved communication platform is vital to the safety of our first responders. It will enhance coverage throughout the county, improve the voice clarity and strengthen the signal to our police frequencies. 

The county invested $160 million in the system over the past few years. Several law enforcement agencies in the county and across the state have already replaced their analog communication systems.

The system also allows interoperability and is a single communication platform that will play a critical role in the event of a disaster, and mutual aid requests in and outside of our jurisdiction. Cops from different agencies in the county can talk to one another seamlessly.

We recognize the concern from our residents and the media regarding the system shutting out the public, some who are hobbyists. The improved system will also shut out individuals who are engaging in criminal behavior that would like to know if law enforcement is coming for them. We understand the argument that the public has a right to know what is happening around them. Our agency has been pushing out more media releases today than ever before, informing the public of incidents in their communities. We will continue to notify the public by way of the media, and our various social media platforms. 

Our mission to serve the public is our number one priority, and the new system will help us in keeping personal and critical operational information from being broadcast to the world.

Any questions regarding this news release can be addressed to Public Affairs at (909) 387-3700


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Senior Los Angeles Fire Department Aircrewman Retires

Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) firefighter flight paramedic Greg Sanderson has retired after 32 years of service, with 18 years assigned to the Air Operations Section.

During Sanderson’s time at Air Operations he interrogated many skills, equipment, and rescue techniques from his time as a U.S. Navy CSAR Corpsman.

When asked what some of his most memorable accomplishments were, he stated, “There are a few such as increasing standardization, transitioning aircrewman from the Bell 412 to the AW139, and most importantly assisting in the development of the sections aviation training operational procedures standardization manual (ATOPS).

In retirement, Sanderson will still be active in the rescue helicopter community as a consultant and operator with civilian DOD contractors.


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LASD Prepares to Assist with Mudslide Operations in Santa Barbara County

In a continuing effort to efficiently work with partnering governmental agencies, on Tuesday, January 16, 2018, through January 22, 2018, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) will be providing resources to assist current mudslide recovery and clean-up efforts in Santa Barbara County as part of a mutual aid request from the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). 
According to a Cal OES News report released on Monday, January 15, 2018, heavy rains, combined with burn-scarred areas due to the Thomas Fire, caused massive mudslides in the Montecito area of Santa Barbara County. Thousands of residents were evacuated, homes were destroyed or damaged, and roads were obstructed. Cal OES has activated the State Operations Center to provide assistance to the Montecito community.
The LASD acts as the Regional Mutual Aid Area Coordinator and will coordinate the deployment of law enforcement personnel from various Southern California agencies tasked with traffic and looter control in the Montecito area. We are proud to serve with these agencies as we assist the residents of Santa Barbara County to move forward and restore their community. We also are saddened and extend our condolences to the families who lost loved ones and experienced property loss in these horrific mudslides. The LASD, as well as partnering agencies, always stand ready to render services during times of need. 
Although the recent storm is past, we remind the residents in our own fire-scarred areas due to the Creek Fire and Fish Fire that inclement weather is still expected and encourage those in these precarious areas to continue monitoring weather reports, and check for status updates with local law enforcement, fire department and utility websites. 

Here are some ideas to prepare and keep in mind before the next big storm:
*Prepare a “Go Bag” that includes a flashlight, batteries, bottled water, non-perishable food, blankets, warm clothing, first aid kit, cash, important documents, and other items you might need for at least three days.           
*Provide for the needs of your pets
*Monitor local news and weather stations for updates.
*Pay attention to alerts and warnings from authorities.
*Stay home if you really don’t need to be outside.
*Use extreme caution if you are using local roads and slow down for debris in the street.
*Treat all non-working traffic signal lights at intersections as stop signs.
*Stay away from downed power lines and report them to your local authorities.
For more information about this event and emergency preparedness, please visit , Twitter @Cal_OES, CARE

Residents, business owners and persons with access or functional needs may also call 2-1-1 for LA County information:  
Prepared by:
Sheriff’s Information Bureau – Newsroom
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
Hall of Justice – First floor 
211 W. Temple St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Website LASD HQ:
Recruitment LASD:
Follow LASD HQ via Text and Email:—los-angeles-county-sheriffs-dept-information-bureau-sib/ 
Twitter: @LASDHQ
Twitter: @LASDtalk
Twitter: @LASDvideos
Twitter: @LASDespanol
Facebook LASD HQ
Instagram LASD Photos:
Pinterest LASD Photos:
YouTube LASD Videos:
Alert LA County: Telephone emergency mass notification system
Text & Email, Register for LASD Nixle messages: To receive more detailed, up-to-date information via E-MAIL and/or TEXT directly from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD), sign up for “Nixle” alerts at and register for “LASD – Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Dept Information Bureau (SIB)” AND your local LASD station area. Or, to receive URGENT TEXT ALERTS ONLY, text your zip code to 888777. Standard text messaging rates may apply depending on your calling plan.
“If You See Something, Say Something”
LA Crime Stoppers: Partner to prevent or report crime by contacting your local Sheriff’s station. If you prefer to provide information anonymously, you may call “Crime Stoppers” by dialing (800) 222-TIPS (8477), use your smartphone by downloading the “P3 Tips” Mobile APP on Google Play or the Apple App Store or by using the website
Jim McDonnell, Sheriff
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

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Arson Suspected in Overnight Fire at 129-Year-Old Church in Pasadena

A fire that damaged a 129-year-old Episcopalian church Saturday morning (1/13/18) in Pasadena has prompted an arson investigation.

Authorities said the cause of the non-injury fire at Church of the Angels, which was reported at 2:20 a.m. at 1100 N. Avenue 64, just east of the Los Angeles city limits, is being investigated as suspicious.

The Los Angeles Fire Department responded and battled the fire at the church as it was originally reported at a Los Angeles address. The Pasadena Fire Department was notified of the blaze after being given a corrected address and is taking over the investigation, according to the LAFD’s Amy Bastman.

It took 41 LAFD firefighters to knock down the blaze in 14 minutes, Bastman said.

In addition to arson investigators, the House of Worship Task Force also was summoned to investigate, according to Bastman.

“At this time investigators are not calling this a hate crime, but referring to it as arson, graffiti, vandalism and a burglary,” said Lisa Derderian of the Pasadena Fire Department. “A few historic statues were significantly damaged and there is fire and smoke damage inside the church.”

The building, which was built in 1889, is the oldest church along the Arroyo Seco waterway, according to the church’s website.

“Police and fire investigators are on scene and will make notifications to other state and/or federal agencies if the need exists,” Derderian said.

Credit: City News Service


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Police Department Changes Course, Will Use Both Public and Private Radio Channels

It looks like they are getting encryption right in Nebraska. We hope the So Cal PD’s will follow suit and not lock out scanner listeners from all PUBLIC safety communications.

COLUMBUS NE — Columbus Police Chief Chuck Sherer is changing course when it comes to restricting the public’s access to information shared between officers and dispatchers.

Sherer met with members of the local media last week to announce the department will follow a policy proposed by the Platte County Sheriff’s Office that allows people with scanners to listen to much of the radio communication.

His department will use both public and encrypted radio channels, allowing dispatchers and officers to switch to the encrypted channel — blocking scanner access — whenever sensitive information needs to be passed along.

The police department switched solely to an encrypted channel in early November as part of its transition to a new digital radio system and Sherer said at that time the department would likely “stay dark” moving forward.

“Essentially, the scanner is there for our business and some of the things we say in our business aren’t necessarily meant for public consumption,” he said in November.

The Platte County Sheriff’s Office is also going digital as it shifts to the statewide radio system.

Like the police department, that office will have both encrypted and public radio channels available, but Sheriff Ed Wemhoff said in November his plan is to only use the encrypted channel for sensitive information, such as fatalities, search warrants and details that might create a safety issue for deputies.

“I don’t have an issue with the public hearing a majority of our traffic,” Wemhoff said two months ago.

That decision helped sway Sherer, who said the police department will start using an open channel again once an equipment upgrade is complete.

The city and county agreed in November to buy a new Motorola radio console system for dispatchers that is still being installed.

That system, which makes it easier to switch from encrypted to public radio channels, will be ready “soon,” according to Sherer, who didn’t have an exact timeline for the transition.

Sherer, who became police chief in September, has said the goal of an encrypted channel isn’t to hide police activity from the public.

He noted that communication between officers and dispatchers can include people’s personal information, including driver’s license numbers, dates of birth and home addresses, as well as details about medical situations and juvenile arrests.

There’s also concern that someone committing a crime could use a portable scanner or smartphone app to monitor police activity.

While recognizing the importance of protecting police officers, The Telegram requested radio communication remain open to the media so the public can be informed about emergencies and other situations.

Since the new radio systems are digital, a digital scanner will be needed to pick up the police and sheriff’s office channels once the transition is complete.



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FCC Must Upgrade Wireless Emergency Alert System, Public Safety Organizations Say

The nation’s Wireless Emergency Alert system (WEA) needs improvements that are long overdue, according to a coalition of public safety organizations that are pushing for action by the Federal Communications Commission on the issue.

In a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and the other commissioners, six leaders of regional and national public safety organizations are urging the government to add new functionality they say would have been useful during several large-scale emergencies in 2017.

Activated in 2012 following enactment of the Warning, Alert and Response Network (WARN) Act, WEA messages are sent to mobile phones in the event of an important message from the president; of “imminent threats to safety or life,” according to the FCC; or for Amber Alerts notifying of abducted children. 

“2017 was a year of missed opportunities for WEA use: Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria; the California Wildfires; the Las Vegas Shootings,” a spokesperson for the Harris County, Texas, Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management wrote StateScoop in an email.

The new functionality requested by the groups includes device-based geotargeting that would allow for more precise selection of who receives messages.

“Without the ability to geo-target our alert originators will continue to use WEA sparingly or not at all. This is a shame. An effective WEA can literally mean the difference between life and death,” the letter reads.

The groups are also calling for multimedia alerts, which would allow the system to send, for instance, photos of abducted children instead of only text descriptions. Also on the group’s list is multilingual messaging and “many-to-one” feedback functionality, which would allow users to respond to polling questions during emergencies that would enable emergency responders to “quickly aggregate disaster impact information and more efficiently deploy scarce resources.”

The groups have asked the FCC to require that these upgrades are implemented no later than May 2019, lest future wildfires, hurricanes, and other disasters needlessly claim more lives.

Organizations whose leaders signed the letter include:

  • City of Seattle Office of Emergency Management
  • Big City Emergency Managers
  • U.S. Council of the International Association of Emergency Managers
  • National Emergency Management Association
  • National Emergency Number Association
  • The United States Conference of Mayors




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California Wildfires Highlighted the Failures of Emergency Notification System

The Sonoma ridgeline was a sunrise of flame as Sgt. Brandon Cutting led deputies up country roads to pound on doors, hollering “Sheriff’s Office!”

Thirty minutes later, with Cutting huffing from exertion and choking in thick smoke, the evacuation of Redwood Hill was still playing out one door at a time. He followed the sound of shouts to an officer struggling to carry a disabled woman. Her house was on fire. Her shoe on the ground. The night around them was orange in every direction.

It was 11 on a Sunday night, the beginning of what would be the most destructive fire siege in California history. Frantic rescues were taking place across wine country as heavy winds ripped down power lines and the dry hills lit up in flames. Modern technology in the form of robocalls and digital alerts would not join the fight to roust sleeping residents for another half an hour.

When the warnings came, they were not received by many of those in the most peril.

Two months after the wine country fires, officials still debate whether more could have been done to give residents earlier warnings before the fires swept in, ultimately killing 44 people and destroying more than 10,000 homes.

The fires highlighted the inadequacies of the emergency warnings officials employed and have prompted a push for new safety protocols. Some of the same problems occurred two months later when the Thomas fire — the largest on record in California — swept through Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

In the end, the warnings that officials sent reached only a fraction of those in the fire’s path, and emergency agencies struggled to direct warnings to the correct geographic areas. The situation left officials frustrated and looking for answers.

“I can use my cellphone to order a pizza and it gets here,” said Rob Lewin, director of the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management. “Why can’t I have that same system to save people’s lives?”

Although weather forecasters told fire departments across Northern California to prepare for incendiary conditions, decisions to broadcast evacuation orders did not take place until hours after the fires started and residents were already trapped. Those caught by surprise jumped into swimming pools or water tanks, or ran through vineyards.

Fires flanked tourists and residents alike in Napa from three sides, but Napa County relied on sending cellphone text messages to the small population that had the foresight to register in advance. It uses the same tool to announce parades and water main breaks.

Electronic logs show that not until the following afternoon did the county attempt to broaden its warnings to include some 53,000 landlines gleaned from AT&T — a message asking residents to refrain from dialing 911.

The effort made no allowance for the tourists who are the lifeblood of the Napa economy. Hotel staff at a luxury golf resort pulled guests from their rooms in pajamas even as highway patrol medevac teams plucked trapped residents off the ridge above by helicopter. The deputies attempting to knock on doors couldn’t even get up the fire-blocked road.

Sonoma County sent text messages and robocalls, but records obtained under the California Public Records Act show only 50 percent of the numbers on its call list worked. An analysis of the calls shows the county tried to reach less than a tenth of those living in the targeted warning area. Fewer than a third of that one-tenth would pick up the phone.

Every county had the capacity for alerts carried on a federal system that would loudly buzz every cellphone within range of a working tower — by sending the messages either on their own or through the state. Of the eight counties hit by 14 fires that night, only Lake County employed the system. A neighboring county that had no fire, Marin, used the system to tell fire evacuees where shelters were open.

In Sonoma, where Cutting was stationed that night, emergency managers said they decided against the federal wireless warning system. County emergency manager Chris Helgren said he was worried the notoriously imprecise system would trigger a countywide panic. Mass evacuations on the single highway through town would have made the emergency even more dire. In the end, dozens died in Sonoma as the Tubbs fire swept from the mountain vale of Calistoga into a suburb of Santa Rosa.

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How to Explore the Hidden World of Radio Waves All Around You

From spy planes to rogue Wi-Fi networks, journalists and artists are using new technology to reveal a hidden world.

One day this fall, in an old factory in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood, a row of ’90s-era phone pagers chirped and buzzed. Alongside their dimly-lit displays sat a receipt printer—like the kind you might find in a cash register—spewing out long spools of paper. As my eyes scanned along the printouts, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing: These were pager messages of dozens of doctors and hospital staffers, filled with very personal information about patients.

The installation at this year’s Radical Networks conference was part of an artwork called Holypager by Brannon Dorsey that used a programmable radio to listen into pager message traffic. While you might think that doing this would take the skills and resources of a spy agency, it’s actually fairly straightforward for even the modestly tech savvy.

When phone pagers became popular in the 1990s, very few people understood how they worked and the technology they depended on was extremely expensive. The designers of the pager network thus got away with sending out every message unencrypted, relying on the pagers themselves to display only the messages addressed to them. Today, however, following readily available instructions and using a cheap USB radio, almost anyone can build a pager that receives every message broadcasted in their area, not just the ones addressed to them.

Dorsey’s project is part of a broader movement in which artists and journalists are using new radio technologies to explore the politics and implications of how hidden infrastructures are designed and used.

While radio might seem like an antiquated technology, it’s actually a ubiquitous part of modern life. Radio signals from Wi-Fi routers, GPS satellites, Roku remotes, wireless water meters, bluetooth keyboards, weather stations, and even echoes of the big bang all saturate the air around us.

Until recently, it was relatively difficult to explore this vast and invisible world. AM/FM radios have been cheap and readily available since the popularization of the transistor in the 1960s, but devices that let you tune outside of frequencies like the 88 MHz-108 MHz band of FM radio were hard to come by and generally cost thousands of dollars.

This all changed in the early 2010s. A group of hackers discovered that the chips that powered many cheap digital TV USB tuners could be repurposed to tune into an impressively wide range of frequencies, from as low as 24 MHz to well over 1000 MHz. Today, these software defined radios (SDRs) can be picked up for about $20 on Amazon and are supported by an active open source community.

The opportunities this new technology has presented for investigative journalists and socially engaged engineers have proven to be vast. For instance, Buzzfeed News published a major story in August that revealed the extent to which law enforcement agencies use Stingrays (devices that pretend to be cell phone towers and are used to surreptitiously track people) by analyzing data from the radio signals that planes use to report on their location.


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Off-Duty LAPD Cop Hurt, Suspect Wounded in North Hills Shooting

An off-duty officer was injured and a suspect was wounded in an officer-involved shooting Wednesday morning (December 20) in North Hills.

A call came in at 1:01 a.m. about an off-duty officer needing help around the same time officers received reports of someone being shot, according to Sgt. Andrew Kukla of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Mission Division.

Responding officers located the off-duty officer and the wounded suspect who was believed to have been shot by the officer at 8923 Orion Ave., Kukla said.

Both the officer and the suspect were taken to hospitals and were in stable condition, according to Kukla. The nature of the officer’s injuries was not immediately reported.

It wasn’t immediately clear what led up to the confrontation between the off-duty officer and the suspect.

The shooting occurred nearly two hours after another officer-involved shooting about a mile away. That no-hit shooting occurred when officers went about 11:15 p.m. Tuesday to the Palm Tree Inn Motel at 8424 Sepulveda Blvd. in response to a report of a man shooting a gun off in the motel’s courtyard.

Officers shot at the man but he was not struck, Kukla said. The suspect surrendered and was taken into custody.

Credit: City News Service, OnScene TV

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