Sharing Public Safety Agency “Virtual Ride-Alongs” on Social Media
Category: Public Safety
Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today’s Tip is for all my public safety friends. I want to talk about virtual ride-alongs that some agencies post on social media.
All of the posts and videos from these projects are likely records that need to be retained and disclosed in accordance with record retention and access laws.
In-person ride-alongs have traditionally been an excellent way to connect with members of the public. It gives them a glimpse into what it’s like to be a law enforcement officer or firefighter. But the current pandemic has made these types of interactions nearly impossible today. So, some public safety agencies have started doing virtual ride-alongs. Officers or firefighters post videos and comments about things that happen during their workday to different social media platforms.
Now, I can appreciate that agencies are using virtual ride-alongs to try and stay connected with the communities they serve. Maybe this even provides another layer of organizational transparency. But there are some pretty significant risks associated with virtual ride-alongs that public safety leaders should think about before giving them a green light.
Information that violates privacy laws or individual privacy rights or compromises an ongoing investigation could inadvertently be released. Keep in mind that not all citizens will share the same sense of humor or opinions with those who post content. Here’s something else that should really give us pause. All of the posts and videos from these projects are likely records that need to be retained and disclosed in accordance with record retention and access laws.
So, if your organization is considering virtual ride-alongs, do some serious analysis ahead of time to make sure that the risks are worth the benefits you seek. Work with your agency’s legal counsel to make sure you follow applicable laws and departmental policies to reduce the risks associated with the program.
And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Until next time, Gordon Graham signing off.