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LPD extends delay on public police radio channels
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LPD extends delay on public police radio channels

From the What you missed this week in notable Southeast Nebraska crimes and court cases series
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In a shift that law enforcement hopes will help retain an edge over suspected criminals they’re chasing, the Lincoln Police Department has increased the delay on its publicly available police dispatch channels beyond the previous 10-minute buffer period. 

Acting Police Chief Brian Jackson pitched the idea to extend the delay an additional 10 minutes to the Citizen Police Advisory Board on May 26. 

The department is not releasing the exact time of the delay, which Officer Erin Spilker said will alternate at varying lengths depending on circumstances. Listeners, however, can determine the exact delay as dispatchers read times on the scanner. 

Spilker said the mayor's staff and members of the police advisory group were more concerned about continuing to provide a public feed than the time of the delayed broadcast.

The delay provides a longer window for officers to pursue suspects while communicating on an open scanner channel without that information being available to anyone listening in.

The change comes after a woman left a note in a convenience store bathroom in April that had a license plate number on it and said "call 911.” The woman was traveling with Britton Ayres, who she said punched her and grabbed her neck when he heard on a scanner that a store clerk had found the note and police were looking for the SUV Ayres was driving. 

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Police eventually caught up with Ayres, who was later charged in connection to false imprisonment

“We’re just saying we need more time than what we currently provide, because sometimes it takes us more than 10 minutes to get there,” Jackson told the advisory board May 26, before the delay was extended. “We’ve seen it time and time again; people, on their phones, listening to our broadcast. And so it’s a challenge.”

Advisory board members largely didn't take issue with the proposed delay, and their discussion veered more toward avenues of concern that are out of the control of the police department or unchanged by the extension. 

Member Scott Hatfield recalled "weird things" said on the scanner that might cause issues for law enforcement, citing a hypothetical instance of a garage door code being transmitted over police radios or fire channels.

Lincoln Police first implemented the delay and encrypted some of its channels after moving to a new, digital radio system in 2018.

Local media outlets, including the Journal Star, still have access to LPD's open police radio channels in real time, both to ensure accountability and enable immediate community notification when situations broadly impact public safety.

There's no delay on public channels for Lincoln Fire & Rescue.

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"I would never be comfortable with a situation where that stuff just went away," Hatfield said, addressing Jackson. "And that's not what you're proposing." 

Jackson stressed the importance of extending the delay — pointing to the incident involving Ayres — but acknowledged that it isn't a cure-all. 

"So if you moved it to 20 (minutes), isn't it just a matter of technology before somebody else figures out how to get it?" board member Cameya Ramirez-Rousseau asked. 

"Potentially," the acting police chief said. 

Lincoln man arrested after woman leaves note to 'call 911' at convenience store
Lincoln police channels to be encrypted; city to offer public delayed feed

Reach the writer at 402-473-7223 or

On Twitter @andrewwegley. 


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Breaking news reporter

A Kansas City, Missouri, native, Andrew Wegley joined the Journal Star as breaking news reporter after graduating from Northwest Missouri State University in May 2021.

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