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Are LEO leaders considering officers' privacy?

Leaders should encourage their officers to maintain their personal privacy; here are three easy strategies all LEO leaders should implement today


Content provided by OfficerPrivacy.com

Law enforcement leaders have many concerns: use of force, recruitment, retention, and the health and wellness of their staff. But, what about their officers' privacy?

Wait, what?

Privacy may not have been something LEO leaders have been concerned about in the past, but it is now more important than ever.
Privacy may not have been something LEO leaders have been concerned about in the past, but it is now more important than ever. (Photo/PoliceOne)

The lack of personal privacy of our sworn officers and professional staff can have huge impacts on their lives and the safety of their families.

Keeping their personal information private protects them from stalkers, criminals and identify theft.

Their home address, date of birth, names of their relatives and phone numbers (just to name a few) is information that needs to be kept private.

However, most of this "private" information is openly available to anyone with an internet connection and is one of the main contributors to the doxing of officers.

With a few simple adjustments, your officers can add a layer of privacy and lower their risk of this happening to them.

Here are three easy steps your officers can take today to gain a layer of privacy.

1. Clean up people-search sites

People-search sites list personal details like home addresses, names of relatives and more. Most people in the U.S. have listings on these sites. And, for most people, this is not a problem.

However, for law enforcement officers, it is extremely dangerous to have this kind of private information online.

What can they do about this? Encourage your officers to remove themselves from these sites.

Start with a simple internet search and see what a criminal would see. Do a Google search by placing your name in quotes. Include the city where you live and the word: address. Here is an example: "John Doe" Minneapolis address

They will see sites that list their home address, phone numbers, names of relatives and more. They should remove their information from these public listings. It can take over a month to delete our information from these sites, but, once removed, officers will enjoy the peace of mind it brings.

You can do these opt-outs yourself, but OfficerPrivacy.com offers access to online software you can use to quickly remove your information. As a service to LEO’s, we offer access free for 14 days.

2. Check your social media accounts

You probably already have a social media policy that protects your agency, like not allowing posts that identify your department.

However, officers should check their social media accounts for personal information inadvertently being leaked. They can perform a privacy check by following these steps:

  • First, they should check the privacy settings of their accounts to see what information is shown to the public. Social media sites have the ability to view accounts as the public would see them. On Facebook, it is under Menu > See your profile. On Instagram, your account is either public or private. Go to Settings > Privacy > and at the top is a slider to make your account private.
  • Verify "friends." Criminals will attempt to "friend" accounts belonging to an officer's spouse and children as they will often share more revealing details than the officer. Using the information gained from the people-search sites who identify relatives, they will befriend them and gain a rich source of information about the officer. Delete any "friends" if you can't confirm they are real friends.

If you want to learn more about social media privacy, download OfficerPrivacy's free eBook here: OfficerPrivacy.com/eBook.

3. Make a monitoring plan

Set up a regular monitoring plan to scan the internet for your personal information. For example, on the first of every month, get into the habit of Googling yourself to search for your private information.

Here is how officers can automate this task using Google Alerts:

  • Go to Google.com/alerts.
  • Decide the search terms. An example would be an officer's first name, last name and street address.
  • Officers will receive an email every time a new search result is found.

Maintaining your privacy

Privacy may not have been something LEO leaders have been concerned about in the past, but it is now more important than ever.

While encouraging your officers and staff to care for their physical and mental wellness, you should also encourage them to maintain their personal privacy.

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