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Public Transparency Meets Secure Law Enforcement Communications

By Chief Jeff Halstead (Ret.)

In law enforcement today, secure digital communication within departments and agencies is paramount, particularly for organizations managing sensitive data. Agencies need the ability to communicate, retain, and access message records as part of ongoing operations and active investigations—all leading to increased safety for the public.  

Consumer messaging applications such as Signal, WhatsApp, GroupMe, etc., are adequate for personal use, but they are not built for the specific needs of law enforcement and government agencies, like corrections departments, school boards, or fire departments. As a result, they fail to meet the requirements for true interoperability and compliance in agency communications, where having CJIS and FOIA compliance is absolutely critical.

Meeting State and Federal Open Records Requirements 

Recently, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections ceased use of the Signal app after a FOX25 news investigation reported that messages were automatically deleted after 24 hours and didn’t meet the public’s right to information. Similar investigations have also taken place in locations like San Diego, Phoenix, and Eugene, Oregon, and in 2021, Michigan’s State Senate voted unanimously to ban state workers from using any messaging apps on state-owned devices. 

Using non-professional messaging applications for formal communications is inviting problems. It not only endangers compliance with public records laws, but also has the potential to severely damage public confidence, not to mention assisting in prosecution of criminal investigations. However, the good news is that this issue is one that all public agencies can address immediately. 

A Solution for Every Need 

While Signal is considered a strong platform for encrypted messaging, Genasys Protect CONNECT solves the challenges of both security and record retention compliance. Here are four key reasons to use CONNECT: 

  1. Preservation of Message History  

CONNECT retains all message history for compliance. Unlike other solutions that could lead to issues that happened for Oklahoma DOC, CONNECT allows for the preservation of chat logs over extended periods, facilitating access to critical information and fostering organizational transparency. 

  1. Regulatory Compliance 

CONNECT’s robust record retention framework aligns seamlessly with regulatory mandates and industry standards, including CJIS, FOIA, and HIPAA. The platform’s ability to maintain detailed message records enables businesses to demonstrate compliance with legal and regulatory obligations, a feature absent from other solutions that force a compromise between security and retention. 

  1.  Legal Preparedness 

In legal proceedings and dispute resolution, access to historical communication data is often essential. CONNECT empowers organizations with the ability to retrieve and present archived messages efficiently, streamlining legal processes and bolstering legal preparedness. 

  1. Security Measures 

CONNECT prioritizes security through robust encryption protocols and advanced security features, safeguarding message data against unauthorized access and interception. With multi-factor authentication and secure backups, CONNECT offers enhanced protection for stored communication data. 

While privacy and encryption matter, a forced compromise of record retention for the sake of security is not necessary. CONNECT solves both challenges simultaneously.  

CONNECT’s robust record retention features empower organizations to maintain compliance, transparency, and security throughout compliant communication workflows. Simply put, CONNECT delivers a secure and scalable solution tailored to the needs of both public agencies and private businesses alike. 

Contact Genasys Protect CONNECT for a demo today.