Civil Lawsuits | The Fallout When First Responders Use SMS for Work

3 min read

Over 90% of all public safety employees admit to using SMS or consumer communication apps while working.  Far too many public safety employees admit to using social apps and never save or store messages that are work-related.  It is illegal in all states to conceal, destroy, or delete evidentiary conversations and the consequences for officers range from termination and misdemeanor up to a felony.  Worst of all, many commit this crime unknowingly.  It is far too easy to slip from innocently discussing lunch plans to mentioning any work-related details while messaging a coworker.  In non secure messaging apps, it is impossible to know where your text with sensitive details or intelligence can land or how far it can travel.  SMS compliance is critical for the safety of officers and the communities they serve, and that’s where Evertel can help. 

Real-Life Horror

In 2016 the city of Chicago paid over $670,000 in FOIA and open records lawsuits.  27 cases were filed against the city, with an overwhelming majority (19) involving the Chicago Police Department.  The most expensive lawsuit by a landslide came from a journalist who demanded the department release a video of a young man who was killed by a Chicago police officer.   Chicago withheld the video, thus breaching open record laws and costing the force nearly $100,000 dollars.  The concealment or deletion of this video might seem an obvious error; however, thousands of officers unknowingly  put themselves in a similar situation every day when they fail to be texting compliant.

The former mayor himself, Rahm Emanuel acknowledged using a personal email to discuss official work-related business and has 

Public Safety Communication App Checklist

While it's easy and free to use standard messaging apps for work, it comes with high risk. The texting platforms on your iPhone or Android-and even others like WhatsApp, Signal, and Voxer-just aren't designed for public safety.

so far paid $96, 275 to settle an FOIA lawsuit.

The Chicago Tribune has an ongoing separate lawsuit regarding Emanuel’s emails again involving work-related business that was discussed and conducted on his personal devices.  The price for breaching email and SMS compliance for first responders is far too steep considering how easy it is to use Evertel’s always secure and always compliant messaging software.  Keep yourself and your employees covered and compliant.  

The Chicago Tribune has repeatedly sued the Chicago Police Department over failing to provide private records including videos of the death of a man while in police custody.  Family members pursued finding the details surrounding the man’s death, and the force paid nearly $20, 000 in fees and costs after finally releasing videos and details surrounding the man’s death. The lack of transparency between the police and the public drives a devastating wedge between the two.   First responders must be a source of trust and safety for their community, and it starts with secure and compliant communication.  

Devastating Effects

The open record lawsuits faced by Chicago present a cloak and dagger relationship with the public and overshadow all the good that is done by the police force on behalf of their city.   The financial effects of communication compliance are tragic to be sure, but perhaps the most devastating is the loss of trust between first-responders and the people they aim to serve and protect. 

SMS compliance for law enforcement, SMS compliance for Firefighters, and SMS compliance for EMT are critical not only to protect municipal employees  from expensive lawsuits, but also to provide trust to their towns, cities, and individual citizens.  

Evertel protects sensitive intelligence while also automatically storing all messages on a private cloud.  Mistakes in communication cannot be unknowingly made, and case details cannot be lost when using the Evertel platform.  

Protect your officers, protect your community,  and fortify trust within your community.  Texting compliance for first responders and secure SMS communication for first responders are easy wins when they are done on the Evertel software.  Let Evertel worry about security and compliance, so your public service employees can worry about protecting and serving their citizens. 

See Evertel in action!

Schedule a live demo and get answers to your specific questions. See how Evertel can drastically improve communication and collaboration in your agency.

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