Calif. law enforcement seek source of racist broadcasts on official radio channels

The transmissions feature automated voices using racial slurs and threatening violence such as lynchings in front of the county courthouse

By Sean Scully
Napa Valley Register

NAPA, Calif. — Napa County officials are trying to determine the source of racist and violent radio transmissions that have been appearing on local government and law enforcement channels.

The transmissions, featuring automated voices using extreme racial slurs and occasionally threatening direct violence, such as lynchings in front of the county courthouse, have been popping up on a civilian local government channel for months.

On Thursday, however, the transmission appeared for the first time on a law enforcement channel, the main one used by both the Napa County Sheriff’s Office and the Napa Police Department.

The Sheriff’s Office had been investigating the transmissions on the civilian channel for some time, but had requested that the Register delay reporting on the matter for fear of tipping off whoever was making the broadcasts. Broadcasting on a widely listened-to law enforcement channel, however, raised the stakes, because it could interfere with public safety and make it sound as if the transmission is coming from within law enforcement at a time of heightened racial tensions nationwide.

The Sheriff’s Office received numerous public inquiries during the day on Thursday.

The Sheriff’s Office issued a statement on its Facebook page disavowing messages.

“We are aware of this message, which has been broadcast repeatedly by an unauthorized, unknown person,” the Sheriff’s Office wrote. “The source of this broadcast is being actively investigated and the Federal Communications Commission has been advised.


We have been contacted by members of the community concerning a racist message that has been broadcast on the primary...

Posted by Napa County Sheriff's Office on Thursday, July 9, 2020

At least three times on Thursday, a female-sounding synthesized voice came on the frequency and said “We are seriously going to f*** you up. White Power. Heil Hitler.”

After the transmissions, a dispatcher read a statement reminding the unknown broadcasters that it is a federal crime to interfere with a law enforcement channel.

“Please know that we will continue to attempt to solve this issue, both for the safety of our community as well as to prevent our resources being used as a method of spreading hate,” the Sheriff’s Office said in its Facebook post.

It’s not clear how the broadcasters gained access to the frequency, which is normally restricted to law enforcement radios. Sheriff John Robertson said he was unaware of any reports of missing radios in either department, so it appeared to be a hack of the frequency.

Robertson said technicians were working to secure the channel or change frequencies to regain control of the airwaves within 24 hours.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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