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Columbus police may restrict public access to dispatches

COLUMBUS, Neb. (AP) _ Columbus police are switching to a new digital radio system in a matter of weeks that would allow them to encrypt dispatches and restrict public access to their communications.

The Columbus Telegram reports that the change will come in a matter of weeks. Capt. Todd Thalken says the department requested encryption as a feature of the new system.

Currently, police dispatchers pass information to officers on police channels that the public can overhear with a scanner. The calls include everything from fender-bender accidents to high-speed chases and drug busts.

Police say they’re looking to balance transparency with the need to protect confidential information relayed in transmissions.

News outlets including the Telegram and many local residents monitor police channels as a way of keeping track of what’s happening in town.

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