|Both the fire and police tracks discuss smartphones,|
social media, and digital camera issues.
Litigation and Claims Special Counsel Jack Hennen addresses the subjects in his fire track presentation, “Avoiding the Big Hurt.” The subjects are also part of our human resources department’s presentation, “Avoiding the Burn—Hot HR Topics for Fire Departments.” In the police track, these subjects are part of “Keeping the Horse In Front of the Cart,” which deals with rapidly changing technology.
While each of these topics is different, there are four common themes among them:
#1. If the technology is used while working, it is most likely gathering government data. Body cameras, helmet cams, photos, text messages, and phone calls are all subject to the law. It does not matter who owns the device—it is all about the data. If it is work-related, it is government data.
#2. Government data must be maintained pursuant to the requirements of the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act. That includes storage, classification, and retention. Failure to follow the Act can result in adverse consequences for both the individuals involved and the city.
|Jack Hennen instructs "Avoiding the Big Hurt" in Duluth.|
#4. “Just because you can does not mean you should.” New information technology has made it very easy and fast to capture data, send data, and post data. The phrase “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should” is an ethical reminder about gathering and handling data.
The League now has a model social media policy for fire departments. It is part of Jack’s presentation, and you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like a copy.
Responder Safety = Public Safety
Up next…The Final Report for the 2014 Safety & Loss Control Workshops
In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.