Hermosa Beach is joining six South Bay cities in launching a new regional public safety radio system this month according to a statement from the city.

The system improves communications among neighboring police officers and firefighters and their dispatch centers. It also encrypts radio transmissions to prevent active shooters and other criminals from monitoring officers' movements and tactics.

“Communications are critical to an effective response in an emergency, and we are proud of the Hermosa Beach Police Department’s leadership in this joint effort to secure federal funding and establish an expanded and improved public safety communications system that will greatly enhance public safety throughout the South Bay,” said Hermosa Beach Mayor Stacey Armato in the statement.

Since 2017, the cities of Hermosa Beach, El Segundo, Gardena, Hawthorne, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach and Torrance have worked together as the Interoperability Network of the South Bay (INSB) to enhance regional public safety communications.

Firefighters in the cities of El Segundo, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach and Torrance were the first to use the new digital system in September.

During October, police officers from all seven cities will “go live” on the system, with Hermosa Beach Police Department scheduled to start using the new system on Oct. 29. Select non-public safety municipal users will also have access to the system, though a schedule for that has not been determined.

The system's encryption will protect the private information police collect from crime victims – such as drivers license numbers and medical conditions – from being shared over the airwaves with unscrupulous persons who might misuse that information.

The radio transmissions will continue to be available to the public after the event through the filing of a Public Records Act request.

“While we understand that some members of the public like to monitor public safety radio traffic, these unencrypted broadcasts place our first responders in danger because the criminals we are pursuing can also monitor our transmissions and plan their responses based on those communications,” said Hermosa Beach Acting Chief Milton McKinnon. “The transition to encrypted radio transmissions will help protect police officers, firefighters and the public by ensuring criminals can no longer listen to our communications.”

Funding for the project included $6 million in grants with INSB members investing an additional $9 million to replace existing hand held and vehicle-mounted radios, according to a statement.

Contact this reporter at mhixon@tbrnews.com or on Twitter @michaeljhixon.com.

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