Recently the City Attorney’s Office sent out a Bureau-wide email in response to potential litigation against the City arising from the ICE protest. While this sort of a “litigation hold” is common in civil cases, it serves as a good reminder to our members about maintaining a bright line between your work and personal electronic devices, including smart phones, tablets, and laptops.
First and most importantly, you should use your Bureau devices only for Bureau business and your personal devices only for personal business. Don’t blur that line by using your Bureau devices for personal business, or by using your personal devices for Bureau business. That means, for example, not linking or accessing your city email to your personal phone.
If you have Bureau materials on your personal devices — such as those related to the ICE Protest — please comply with the litigation hold. That means don’t delete or alter any records. When it comes to producing records from your personal devices, usually you do not need to hand over your personal device to the City to satisfy any discovery or public records requests. Certainly, we do not recommend that you hand over any personal electronic device, such as a smart phone, to the City Attorney’s Office. That’s because a few rules are at play. You have privacy rights in your personal electronic devices. Except in very limited circumstances, the City cannot seize your personal device against your will. The City needs to look to less intrusive means to fulfill a litigation discovery request or public records request. For example, a less intrusive means of obtaining Bureau materials would be to take a snapshot of a relevant text message on a personal phone and provide that snapshot to the City Attorney’s Office.
Please contact the PPA if you have any questions or concerns when you receive a request to produce Bureau related materials on your personal device.
Daryl Turner, President
Portland Police Association