Chicago Police to Implement Digital Radio Communications - Encryption an Option


A long-term Chicago-One News investigation that started in July of 2017 has culminated in successfully learning that the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications, and the Chicago Police Department are planning to be less transparent with the public and the news media.  

The Chicago Police Dept has recently internally sent out an administrative message that was leaked to Chicago-One, and confirms they have been working to migrate all of its public safety radio communications to a digital P25 system. The memo addressed to "all units" was sent out by the department within the last several weeks, according to a confidential source that provided the administrative message to Chicago-One News. 

The message from within CPD's internal administrative message system shows CPD's plan for the switch to the new radio system. The 005th, 022nd, 004th, and 006th districts will be the first to operate on the new P25 system. This districts are identified as radio zones 8 and 9 respectively. 

All of CPD's beat units within the Bureau of Patrol, and twenty-seven specialized units within CPD have already been instructed to be familiar with the proper zone letter and channel letter designator on their department issued radios.

The entire Bureau of Detectives and twenty-two other specialized CPD units have been issued new radios with encryption since October, according to the administrative message, with listed units continuing to receive those radios into this current month.   

There is also a City of Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications memo that makes mention of "radio intruders" that forced their hand, and "FCC Mandate" to vacate the T-Band. 

The memo below from May of this year shows the city told the FCC they want to repurpose their 800sMhz frequencies to make use of existing channels, consolidate disparate systems, enhance security, and plan for T-band migration. The city told the FCC in this memo that they want to have one interoperable network. 

The memo further shows that the Chicago Police Department and Chicago Fire Department together will total 20,000 users on the system citywide.  

For many years, persons unknown to the city have been able to obtain two - way radios, and were able to program those radios to operate on the Chicago Police Department radio system. The Chicago Police Department knows these to be what they call "cheater" Baofeng radios in the recently leaked administrative message.  

In recent years there have been a few high profile incidents in which people not authorized to be on their system performed various misdeeds. One system intruder encouraged officers to shoot a suspect they were engaged with during an incident in - progress.

According to ABC 7 Chicago, in reports dated for March 14th and March 21st, 2016, a radio system intruder used a racial slur on CPD frequencies. The City of Chicago responded to these incidents with notification to the FCC and the U.S. Attorney's Office because unauthorized operation on some frequencies without a license or other legal authorization is a federal offense.

A ZeroHedge article dated for June 1st, 2020, attributes one of these incidents to the Anonymous group. "One of the first actions the group took was hijacking the police radio scanners belonging to the Chicago PD and using it to play NWA’s 1988 hip-hop classic “Fuck Tha Police,” the protest song against police harassment and brutality that became the unofficial anthem of the Los Angeles Uprising of 1992."

"While the group controlled Chicago police scanners, they also played polka music – a fitting choice considering that the Windy City is the unofficial U.S. capital of the European musical genre." - ZeroHedge quote

On May 31st, 2020, at 2:39AM, Elijah Daniel, who's Twitter profile shows him as a comedian, Tweeted out a recording of one incident. 

Anonymous apparently now been hacking Chicago PD radios all night and playing polka music and Fuck The Police so the cops can’t communicate about protests lmfao

— elijah daniel (@elijahdaniel) May 31, 2020

What is Apco P25? The P25 Technology Interest Group says this:
"Project 25 (P25) is the standard for the design and manufacture of interoperable digital two-way wireless communications products. 

Developed in North America with state, local and federal representatives and Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) governance, P25 has gained worldwide acceptance for public safety, security, public service, and commercial applications.

The published P25 standards suite is administered by the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA Mobile and Personal Private Radio Standards Committee TR-8). Radio equipment that demonstrates compliance with P25 is able to meet a set of minimum requirements to fit the needs of public safety. The P25 standard was created by, and is intended for, public safety professionals."

Who else can use P25? Other than federal and local public safety agencies, FCC licensed amateur (ham) radio operators use P25 and other digital voice communications. Amateur radio operators must be interoperable with federal and local government agencies because they are listed in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Emergency Communications Protocols as an emergency communications resource.

The new city P25 radio system is currently scheduled to be in place by 2021. The Chicago Fire Department is currently on a P25 digital system. Chicago's Midway and O'Hare International Airports, city parks, and support services will also migrate to the new radio system, along with the Water Department and other city agencies.

The media and radio monitors will still be able to monitor city communications, as radio receivers that allow reception of P25 have already been on the market for many years, and radio amateurs with a valid FCC License have been using P25 for many years. Although the leaked administrative message mentions encryption, there is no word on what circumstances police will use that encryption, how it'll be used, or how often that encryption will be used. 

Per the popular "Radio Reference" website, CPD's O'Hare radio system looks like this: 


  • 2900000-2900061/2900145-2900180...O'Hare CPD Patrol Radios.
  • 2900062-2900080..ALES (Airport Law Enforcement Section) Tact Teams...7262/7263 Series Units.



  • 2900092:CPD Canine 7266-A
  • 2900093:CPD Canine 7266-L
  • 2900094:CPD Canine 7266-E
  • 2900095:CPD Canine 7267-K
  • 2900096:CPD Canine 7266-B
  • 2900097:CPD Canine 7266-C
  • 2942318:CPD Canine 7267-I (Mobile)
  • 2900098:CPD Canine 7267-I
  • 2900099:CPD Canine 7266-L
  • 2900100:CPD Canine 7266-G
  • 2900101:CPD Canine 7267-D
  • 2900102:CPD Canine 7266-H
  • 2900103:CPD Canine 7266-K
  • 2900104:
  • 2900105:CPD Canine 7266-M
  • 2900106:
  • 2900107:CPD Canine 7267-A
  • 2900108:CPD Canine 7267-F
  • 2701168:CPD Canine 7266-J (Mobile)
  • 2900109:CPD Canine 7266-J
  • 2900110:CPD Canine 7267-J
  • 2900111:CPD Canine 7267-H
  • 2900112:CPD Canine 7267-E
  • 2900113:CPD Canine 7267-C
  • 2900114:CPD Canine 7266-F
  • 2900115:CPD Canine 7266-I
  • 2900117:CPD Canine 7266-D

ALES Administrative/Beat Units

  • 2900120:CPD Beat 7202 (O'Hare CPD Desk Officer)
  • 2900123:CPD Beat 7302 (O'Hare Blue Line Officer Radio #123)
  • 2900124:CPD Beat 7302 (O'Hare Blue Line Officer Radio #124)
  • 2900137:CPD Beat 7204 (Portable)
  • 2900140:CPD Beat 7299 (ALES Watch Lieutenant-Portable)
  • 2900141:CPD Beat 7200 (ALES Commander-Portable)
  • 2900142:CPD Beat 7200X (ALES Executive Officer-Portable)
  • 2900217:2900223 (O'Hare Radio Shop Portables)
  • 2941686:CPD Beat 7203 (Mobile)
  • 2941566:CPD Beat 7204 (Mobile)
  • 2941790:CPD Beat 7200 (ALES Commander-Mobile)
  • 2942286:CPD Beat 7230 (ALES Sergeant-Mobile)
  • 2941838:CPD Beat 7241 (Mobile)
  • 2941806:CPD Beat 7241-B (Mobile)
  • 2941758:CPD Beat 7242 (Mobile)
  • 2942334:CPD Beat 7245 (Mobile)
  • 2942366:CPD Beat 7243 (ALES Prisoner Transport Van-Mobile}
  • 2942270:CPD Beat 7246
  • 2942414:CPD Beat 7299 (ALES Watch Lieutenant-Mobile)
  • 4xxxxxx - Department of Water Management?
  • 55329xx - Chicago PD Marine Unit
  • 5528700:CPD 4600-A
  • 5655681:CPD Beat 4601C (SWAT Training Officer)
  • 5533191:CPD Beat 4601G
  • 5533208:CPD 4603
  • 5533002:CPD 4604
  • 5538267:CPD 4620

Radio Reference also lists this page for Chicago OEMC Public Safety - 800Mhz P25.

The FCC issued callsign for this system is listed as WQZR530 and is set by the FCC to expire on 07/14/2027. 

Like all other FCC licensees, the city of Chicago was issued a FRN (Federal Registration Number) by the FCC. That registration is listed as FRN#: 0002833416 (City of Chicago - Office of Public Safety Administration)

FCC records show that FRN number has ten pages of FCC license callsigns issued to the City of Chicago - Office of Public Safety Administration. Within those listings is callsign WQZR532, for which there are one hundred four frequency entries on record, and four antenna locations throughout the city. 

Other associated callsigns are WNSS278, WNDW413, KDC618, KXF483, WPFY218, and WPFY221. The City of Chicago listed two control points in their FCC record: 1411 W Madison, and 2111 W. Lexington.

Chicago-One News will have more as this story develops. 

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