Defined as the sending of sexually explicit digital images, videos, text messages, or emails, usually by cell phone, sexting has become a huge problem both in society in general and for our members.
James Tignanelli, Gordana Misovski, and Dave LaMontaine talk about the rising issues associated with communication today and the problems sexting can cause for police officers.
Your personal cell phones are FOYABLE if your employer pays for any part of that bill.
Taking Photos With Your Phone
Personal or not, these photos are still evidence in a case. If those photos become the issue of a criminal case or an investigation and the next set of pictures are intimate pictures between an officer and his spouse, or coworker… now you’ve gotten yourself into a pickle.
Everyone communicates via text. Your expectation would be that communication is private. However, what you don’t know is that at some point these texts (which may have been funny to you or a friend, or private between you and a lover) are suddenly not funny or private to someone else.
Every building has a camera. Everyone has a microphone. Everyone’s being surveyed.
Even in the “old days” police officers didn’t say much inside the building and that’s because they assumed someone was listening. We used to hold private conversations out by the truck or in the lockers. Now, people have these conversations via text and we keep thinking this is a private conversation. The whole point of this is that the whole world could see your conversations at some point.
Texting is so common that we think it’s private.
Looking for A but Found B
An example of that “looking for A but finding B” happened when one officer got in trouble and voluntarily gave up his phone.
While command was scrolling through, they found text conversations between the officer in trouble and another officer he worked with.
Now he had to deal with the first issue as well as this new second issue – and his coworker now faced disciplinary action.
Why Has Sexting Become Problematic?
Sexting has become problematic as far as police departments are concerned for a few reasons. Police officers have a different kind of relationship as opposed to bankers, for example. Police officers tend to develop more personal relationships with one another – this certainly happens when you’re working together in high stress situations. These relationships are very different than those in other professions, becoming more intimate.
When you’ve developed this kind of relationship and you bring into that situation communication that goes from joking to flirty to explicit… those could be very welcome. However, they could all of a sudden become totally unwelcome. Now, someone can accuse you of harassing, etc. they could potentially get you fired.
Because you are such good friends with your fellow officers, you never want to think that this could happen to you. But it does. We deal with it way more frequently than we want to.
Viewing Texts Out of Context
If you view these texts in a vacuum with no prior information about the relationship that’s when you get in trouble. Viewed out of context is where the trouble really begins.
Here’s another example. You and a buddy are great friends. You see a license plate that says David Tom Frank 1017. What if your buddy happens to be a woman? How is someone going to interpret that? DTF?
The problem is that when it’s out there, it’s out there. You can never put the toothpaste back in the tube.
What’s the real lesson here?
Don’t sext. Do not send sexts. Don’t create a sext. No sexting is allowed.