Chicago mayor blocks public from listening to live police scanners

Several media outlets criticized Lori Lightfoot's decision that "impact[s] our ability to provide timely, accurate and potentially life-saving news."

Despite the city with one of the highest crime rates in the United States, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot made the decision to block citizens' ability to listen to police scanners. Now, a coalition of media outlets have drafted a letter calling Lightfoot's policy "pure censorship":

A shooting took place at a courthouse and police district in Chicago last week in broad daylight. The perpetrators fired more than 40 shots and escaped on an expressway. You did not see, hear, or read about that incident as it was happening. The City of Chicago prevented you from knowing about this dangerous incident by blocking all live scanner transmissions. This jeopardized the lives of everyone at that police department, everyone at that courthouse, everyone on that expressway.

Lightfoot argued that switching transmissions to encrypted radio frequencies would help minimize disruptions, prevent criminals from surveilling law enforcement and protect emergency responders. What the Democratic mayor did not consider was that law-abiding citizens also have great use for police scanners. The broadcasts serve to alert the public to "everything from traffic congestion to developing threats to public safety" and also ensure "transparency and accountability of law enforcement," the brief continued.

Lightfoot's policy "affects our ability to monitor how our government works"

Steven Mandell, one of the coalition's lawyers who represents media outlets such as the Chicago Tribune and WGN-TV, pointed directly to the fact that the public will not be able to know how the mayor's office is acting:

Police scanner transmissions have been available for decades. Once you encrypt those transmissions, that shuts off the level of information, which affects public safety and our ability to monitor how our government works.

The city administration responded that "real-time access to police radio creates vulnerabilities that present a serious threat to law enforcement and the public, and that can be exploited by domestic and foreign actors – risks that the [city] cannot ignore."

Six hundred homicides in 2022

As reported by WTTW, 580 people were killed in Chicago in 2022 through the end of October. At an rate of 58 per month, this figure is estimated to have already exceeded 600. In addition, 1,409 vehicle thefts were recorded, and Chicago Police seized 10,778 illegal firearms between Jan.1 and Oct. 31, 2022.

Despite the fact that the number of murder has decreased 16% compared to 2021, the numbers remain alarming, so Lightfoot's progressive policies are not doing enough to significantly reduce crime.