Law enforcement in Sioux Falls, Rapid City transitioning to encrypted radio traffic

November 6, 2023

SIOUX FALLS, S.D.–Law enforcement agencies in the Sioux Falls and Rapid City areas will soon encrypt their radios, which means they will no longer be accessible to the public on a scanner.

Starting November 13th, the Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office, Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, Rapid City Police Department, and Sioux Falls Police Department will make the transition. The move was announced Friday during a joint press conference between the agencies.

“In recent years, our officers have encountered suspects actively committing crimes out in the community that are adjusting their actions based on live scanner traffic available on their smartphones,” said Rapid City Chief of Police Don Hedrick. “The public expects that if they call police, we’re going to track down the suspects and apprehend them—a job that’s difficult when the offender has your playbook on their phone.”

“The decision to encrypt radios throughout Pennington County and Minnehaha County, including Sioux Falls and Rapid City, was not made lightly. As technology continues to change how the world works, law enforcement agencies must adapt their policies and operations to best meet their public safety and officer safety responsibilities,” said Minnehaha County Sheriff Mike Milstead.

It complies with federal guidelines that mandate first responder agencies nationwide transition to a new, unified radio communications system by 2025.

Another reason for the move was to protect the names, location and other personal information of victims and witnesses.