Excerpts from the ChicagoTribune.com:

Tyler Clancy’s Kendall County Scanner Incident Facebook page is filled with reports of traffic crashes, shootings and other calls for help. He and his group of moderators say their mission is to inform residents about police events by posting updates based on police scanner chatter.

The pages, which have been made for both Kane and Kendall County residents, sometimes bring out gawkers and often spin the rumor mill, but they have garnered thousands of followers since their January 2014 inception.

“When I first started the (Kendall County) page, I honestly thought 1,000 followers would be cool,” said Clancy, 18, who is training to become a firefighter. “Now we’re at 13,000. It just grew like crazy.”

But some local law enforcement departments aren’t necessarily on board with the pages’ popularity.

The social media trend of sharing police scanner talk is one reason many police departments are encrypting their dispatch radio broadcasts.

Before the Elgin Police Department began encrypting its police radio in January 2014, Elgin Police Deputy Chief Bill Wolf said crooks had begun using scanner applications to their advantage. Some burglary suspects had learned to listen to the scanner and were able to flee the scene of the crime as soon as they heard the call dispatched, Wolf explained.

Naperville and Aurora police also are taking measures to limit who hears their broadcasts.

“The digital radio system we use is encrypted, meaning you can’t access the transmissions from a typical scanner,” said Deputy Chief Brian Cunningham of the Naperville Police Department.

When Aurora police switched to their encrypted system, department spokesman Dan Ferrelli said it alleviated the spread of a lot of confidential information. However, because many Kendall and Kane County police agencies’ broadcasts are public, that can become Aurora’s problem. “We have had assistance from other agencies and have experienced information going public because the neighboring agencies do not have encrypted communication,” Ferrelli said. “Some of that information that got out we really would have rather kept close to the vest.”

Still, Clancy and Kane County Scanner Incident Facebook page creator Dan Simon said they do their best to make sure sensitive information isn’t leaked.

Kane County Sheriff’s Lt. Patrick Gengler said he is pleased with how the pages are being handled, especially being run by such young adults. He believes the pages are moderated responsibly.

Long gone are the days when it cost more than $200 to purchase equipment capable of picking up dispatch calls. The bulky scanners had to be plugged in at home, making them difficult to listen to on the go. These days, free cellphone applications allow access to anyone, anywhere, at any time. With Simon and Clancy’s pages accessible on Facebook, residents don’t even need scanner applications.

“We always try to mention that something is unconfirmed until we are 100 percent sure it’s true,” Simon said.





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