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Boston police radio goes offline

An Internet service that transmits police radio calls has cut off broadcasts from Boston-area police departments for fear of jeopardizing first responders during the Boston terrorist manhunt.

Tens of thousands of news junkies from around the world had been using the service to follow the story.

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Broadcastify.com of San Antonio, Texas, works with a nationwide network of volunteers who connect police radios to their computers, then transmit the incoming calls to a central server. Law enforcement buffs and journalists can log in and listen on personal computers or through smartphone apps.

When news of the Boston manhunt broke on Thursday, thousands of new listeners flocked to the Broadcastify service.

“At the peak we had about 160,000 people listening to the feed,” said Lindsay Blanton, the company’s chief executive. “This is the largest event that we’ve seen.”

But on Friday morning, Blanton read a Twitter message from the Boston Police Department, warning the news media not to broadcast tactical information that might compromise the safety of officers conducting the manhunt.

“We made a decision to pull offline all the Boston law enforcement feeds until the situation gets to a more stable point,” said Blanton. ”We were not directly asked by the police to do that....we thought it was best for the Boston law enforcement community and its safety.”

Blanton said that Broadcastify would restore Boston police radio streams when “the situation gets to a more stable point.”

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