Last September it was revealed that the Long Beach Police Department was using a phone app, known as TigerText, to send encrypted and self-deleting messages. From the article:
Two of the officers claimed that they were also instructed by their superiors to use the app to “have conversations with other officers that wouldn’t be discoverable”.
The City of Long Beach paid for an independent review which found no wrongdoing, owing that the city and investigator claimed that the messages were “transitory” and thus exempt from disclosure.
This transitory argument should sound familiar as it’s the same argument which was made by the Orange County Supervisors, including now District Attorney Todd Spitzer, when they voted to destroy “transitory” records including texts and emails.
So what does this have to do with Fullerton PD?
TigerText was being used in Long Beach when our now former Chief David Hendricks was Deputy Chief in that department. The idea that he wasn’t using or didn’t know that TigerText was being utilized for years under his command is laughable.
Knowing the above, one of our friends put in a records request asking if the city of Fullerton was using Tigertext or a similar app known as Signal and what the policies and procedures were around such software.
From Chief Dunn himself:
“Hi ma’am…this question was floating around here last week…I am not familiar with any use of either of those messaging apps…I am aware that we use other apps that may do the same thing however…”
According to our Current Police Chief the city does in fact use similar software, in what capacity it is unknown, and they have no policies or procedures in place over how to use such software or to help mitigate abuses.
Now let us skip ahead to this last week when a Superior Court Judge ruled against the OC Supervisors in the ongoing case over their transitory records policy. The County’s argument fell apart because the word “transitory” exists nowhere in disclosure laws.
With that ruling it certainly looks like the OC Supervisors broke the law to hide as much as possible which is pretty much par for the course from that legislative body.
Let’s circle back to Fullerton with that ruling established thus far.
Is Fullerton PD is still using a similar app to TigerText, as Chief Dunn admitted, and are they also using it to destroy “transitory” records illegally?
Will the City Manager or City Council even bother to investigate this issue and further will they follow the law if PD is found to be in violation? Don’t count on it.