Wednesday Apr 25 2012
Profane calls interrupt Rocklin Police channel
By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald Correspondent
Investigators search for suspect accused of interfering with dispatch operations
Rocklin Police are trying to figure out who is responsible for a series of illegal and disruptive broadcasts over the police emergency dispatch channel. Rocklin Police Lt. Lon Milka reports dispatchers and officers in the field began hearing something out of the ordinary around April 18. “The Rocklin Police Department radio frequency has been compromised with person(s) unknown,” Milka said. “This person, or these people, have been getting onto our frequency using profane language and making vulgar noises.” Milka estimates there have been about ten instances varying in duration of up to 30 minutes. “Most of the transmission groupings take place during the evening and night time hours. The last time was on Sunday night,” Milka said. “We do not know who this person is or who these people are, nor do we know where they live.” Interfering with a police radio transmission is illegal under state and federal law. “Several times we have broadcast an FCC order directing the culprit(s) to stop in response to the jamming,” Milka said. If convicted under state law, the culprit faces a fine and one year in jail with additional jail time and fines under federal law. Milka said the danger of the so-called jamming during an emergency could put officers and the public at risk by creating confusion. Rocklin resident Matt Dickinson hopes the culprit can be stopped before someone is hurt. “Whoever is doing it is interfering with emergency calls that could be life-threatening or fatal. That’s wrong,” Dickinson said. “I would hate to think that if something happened to us and someone was messing with airwaves and couldn’t get to us.” Officials with Roseville Police Department and the Placer County Sheriff’s Office have not received disruptions on their communication channels. Milka suggests anyone can acquire the know how and the equipment from the Internet. “It’s probably not hard to do. Why they are picking on Rocklin PD is a good question,” Milka said. Roseville truncates its frequencies making it more difficult to jam them. Rocklin recently upgraded their analog equipment; however, encryption technology is costly. Rocklin resident Connor Carrasco believes the city should pay for the upgrade. “That is very concerning. Seriously, I think they should update their communications. That shouldn’t be a problem,” Carrasco said. Rocklin’s police budget has been cut by $2 million over the last four years. Last year the city’s operating and capital budgets were slashed in half as the city attempted to survive in a lagging economy. Right now, most of the $12 million police budget goes to salaries and benefits. City Council member George Magnuson said public safety has always been his priority. “We’ve always put that at the forefront, but this is a new problem that is arising that we haven’t had in the past,” Magnuson said. “If it persists we may have to address that present problem. We’ll just have to monitor the situation.” In the meantime, Milka said the department is using a variety of measures, which investigators won’t disclose, in an effort to catch the culprit.