Ryan McDonald

Hermosa Beach Police Beat

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Hermosa joins radio system

Hermosa Beach will join a public safety radio system this month that officials say will improve communications among police officers and firefighters with dispatchers and neighboring agencies in the South Bay.

The system is a project of the Interoperability Network of the South Bay, a seven-city network founded in 2017 to improve communications among first responders. El Segundo, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, and Torrance began using the radio network last month. Officers with the Hermosa Beach Police Department will begin using the system on Oct. 29.

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According to a statement from the city, the system will help improve communications by other agencies with the Los Angeles County Fire Department, with whom Hermosa began contracting for fire services at the start of 2018. At the time Hermosa was considering contracting with the county, opponents raised the prospect that the different communication systems relied on by the county and local police and fire departments would add crucial time to emergency calls. (According to data provided by the county fire department, response times for calls within Hermosa have declined since the transition.)

Communications on the network will be encrypted, and no longer accessible to police scanner hobbyists. This was done, according to interim Police Chief Milton McKinnon, because “criminals we are pursuing can also monitor our transmissions, and plan their responses based on those communications.” The text of the calls will be available, however, through the filing of public records requests.

The communications network covers approximately 100 square miles and 560,000 people. It was made possible in part by a $6 million grant from the federal Department of Homeland Security. Member cities, meanwhile, have spent about $9 million to replace their radios.

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