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Using Personal Cell Phone for Police Business

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Posted about 4 years ago

 

My department doesn't issue cell phones to all officers so many of us use our personal cell phones to make official calls.  The idea that my personal cell phone number could be exposed to criminals (and personal call records treated as evidence) always bothered me, so for the last year I have been searching for an alternative.  I found a few telephony companies that come very close to solving the problem... their products allow me to assign multiple phone numbers to my cell phone, so I could use one number for police business and the other number for personal business.  It seemed like the perfect solution until I actually started testing them in the field.  Since they were designed for the private sector, they fall short of solving some of our unique law enforcement-related requirements.  As one example, they all mixed my police and personal address books, which has caused me to accidentally call people using the wrong number.  Not good. 


I approached a few of these companies and asked if they could make some changes to their products and they were not interested... they thought the law enforcement market would distract them from their commercial product roadmap!  So in an effort to prove these companies wrong and convince them to revisit the idea, I created a video that summarizes all the features I discovered over the last year and put it on the Internet.  So far a few hundred officers from across the country have watched the video and registered to show their support, but hundreds is not enough.  We'll need a few thousand to register before these companies will take the law enforcement market seriously.  


Which brings me to the reason for this post.  Please watch the short video and if you like the features I describe then please register to show your support.  I placed the link and access code in the LE restricted PL group called LEOphone (a few of the features are pretty cool and should not be publicly available). 


Thanks and stay safe!

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Rate This | Posted about 4 years ago

 

Your leophone group is posted by an anonymous 1 poster like you.  I might check out your website when you post an introduction and explain who is anonymous with 0 posts. 


Sorry but I'm not a trusting guy.


Hello my name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die.

"It's not a constitutional violation for a police officer to be a jerk." Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy -December 4, 2000

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Rate This | Posted about 4 years ago

 

No problem.  I completely understand.  I am not sure why it shows anonymous.  I created the group using my dswoods65 username (Dan Woods).  It might be because I created the group then deleted and re-established my account.  Re number of posts, I haven't been part of PL very long.  I have been on LinkedIn a number of years so you can read more about me there if you want. 


www.linkedin.com/in/danswoods


Thanks


 

Bayou_032_max50

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Rate This | Posted about 4 years ago

 

I never use my personal phone for police business. I had a complainant call me back 3 mos. later to help her fix a ticket.

Vpsomourningband_max50

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Rate This | Posted about 4 years ago

 

I will watch the video.  Seems like a great idea.  We patch calls via dispatch to deputies so there is no issue of anyone getting their cell phone numbers.  It's a major pain at times, but it works.  I like the idea of taking out the middle man on necessary phone calls.


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8494_bozo_pd_max600_max50

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Rate This | Posted about 4 years ago

 

The real quick solve would be to get a pay by the minute trak phone.  your personal cell can not be used as a tax deduction, but if you got a trak phone exclusively for work you could deduct your bills. Also if the complainants or whoever starts callig it there is no real security risk, just trash the phone.  I don't have one where I have a  department issued phone and not sure of the registration process, but i would imagine just use the department address.


PL Mentoring Team Member

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Rate This | Posted about 4 years ago

 

If you do end up having to use your personal phone to make a business call, *67 is your friend.

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Rate This | Posted about 4 years ago

 

GTS197 says ...



If you do end up having to use your personal phone to make a business call, *67 is your friend.



I'm not sure what *67 is on your phone, but i can go into setting on my cell and block outgoing caller ID, receiver gets  "no information sent" or the like rather that my cell #, probably *67 does the same.

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Rate This | Posted about 4 years ago

 

GTS197 says ...



If you do end up having to use your personal phone to make a business call, *67 is your friend.



Bump. That beats having two phones. I don't know about the rest of you, but my duty belt is full and so are my pockets. I don't want to carry anything else. I use *67 all the time.

Csi_squirrle_max600_1__max50

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Rate This | Posted about 4 years ago

 

I had my cell number blocke by my service provider.  Anyone I call gets a caller ID message that says blocked number.   No need for a second phone.  No one gets my number unless I give it to them. 

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Rate This | Posted about 4 years ago

 

Disposable phones are a great idea, but I agree it is a hassle to carry two phones (and they cost money).  Also, there are some UC situations where someone would need to carry 4 or 5 cell phones.  Blocking caller ID doesn’t always protect your phone number (see Trapcall.com).  It also prevents you from being able to receive a call back unless every returned call is handled by your department switchboard, which is not scalable.  I was on a scene recently where I made 20 different calls and received several call backs.  These are all options for "getting by" but I don’t think we are fully leveraging the cell phone as a law enforcement tool. 


It doesn't sound like anyone has actually watched the video yet.  In the video I explain features that go well beyond anything that is possible with *67 or pre-paid phones.  Maybe because I am so new to PL people are hesitant to click the link and watch the video, which is certainly understandable.  Or maybe everyone thinks I am trying to sell something, which I am not.  I do encourage you to watch the video and register... hundreds of cops across the country have already done so... just nobody on PL.  In any case, thanks for the dialogue.  I do appreciate it.

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Rate This | Posted about 4 years ago

 

dont you have a union? have the union petition the chief, or have the union buy duty phones. I would never use my phone for police business.

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Rate This | Posted about 4 years ago

 

Sure, we have a union, but I already have enough support from my department (and many departments in AZ).  This isn't enough support to convince the companies to produce a police-only version of their software.  We need cops across the country to support the initiative. 

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Rate This | Posted about 4 years ago

 

maybe im not understanding your post then

1979_max50

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Rated +1 | Posted about 4 years ago

 

I would never use my personal cell phone for official duty as it then becomes evidence and the defense has the right to suponea and look though all the history etc of that phone including your personal information. If you must, buy a disposable phone.

Csi_squirrle_max600_1__max50

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Rated +1 | Posted about 4 years ago

 

Why would the OP not appeal to our state FOP or whatever union/orginization each state has?  Why is he coming on a public website to solicit our "petition"?  I subscribe to six different police related publications and have never heard of this guy or this idea. It sounds to me like someone is trying to gather information on officers for some purpose.  The OP talks about the "safety" of his idea but wants us all to do something that is very unsafe in that he wants us to go to an unknown site which requires some secret code that he provides.  He then wants us to provide our personal data for a petition.  Uh, I think I'll pass.

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Rate This | Posted about 4 years ago

 

There still seems to be some confusion... the idea of never using a personal cell phone for official business is simply not practical for my department (unless someone is issued a department phone, then it's easy).  We go call to call almost every shift.  We routinely need to call a sergeant or lieutenant, other officers, or detectives to follow-up on calls; we call other departments to confirm arrest warrants; we call the medical examiner's office, probation officers, hospitals.... there are countless reasons for us to use a cell phone for official business, and if we are not issued a phone, we frequently use our personal phone.  Using the radio or payphones is simply not practical.  We fully understand the risk of having our phone and our phone records treated as evidence, but it is a risk many of us have been willing to take for the increased productivity. 


Buying a disposable phone is good idea and I have been doing that for years.  It does obviously cost money, which I don't like at all (tax deduction or not) and I sometimes find carrying two phones a hassle... but the disposable phone has been the best solution for the last several years. 


The point to my original post is that there is new technology available that could really transform how departments use cell phones in the future, and I am simply trying to gain support from other LEOs so we can collectively drive that discussion - define our functional requirements - rather than sit back and react to whatever the private sector produces. 


And I am appealing to various state organizations.  I just thought PL would be another good way to reach other law enforcement professionals.   I didn’t know PL had a “troll“ problem, which appears to have made everyone understandably sensitive.   It can’t hurt to at least watch the video.  I took a lot of time putting it together and I think it explains everything pretty well.   And I am not selling anything – I just think it would be good for law enforcement, that’s all. 

 

Csi_squirrle_max600_1__max50

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Rated +1 | Posted about 4 years ago

 

I'm not worried you are selling.  My concern is what you are gathering.  I'll pass.

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Rate This | Posted about 4 years ago

 

if your using a cell for company busines, the chief should budget this. I really dont know of any dept not using cells. so im really wondering who is running your agency and why havent they gotten to the 21 century. This sure seems like a admin problem to me, not something the average patrolman should be making his problem to find a solution. That is whyh I mentioned union, make it part of a office safety issue and petition the chief.

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Rate This | Posted about 4 years ago

 

The reality is most departments cannot afford to issue cell phones to everyone, mine included.  The administrators and even the chief fully understand the benefit, but the money is simply not available (there is talk of a RIF).  These technologies I have found and tested would enable departments to issue one or more police numbers to every officer without the added expense of an additional phone.  Departments would actually save money (and maybe save a few jobs).  The technologies just need to be slightly modified, which is something the companies are not interested in doing without *knowing* there is interest among law enforcement.  I am simply trying to quantify that interest. 


And this is actually what I do for a living full time.  I seek out and evaluate technologies for possible application in the homeland security space.  I am not doing this in an official capacity with my PD.  Although, my police officer status certainly helps me with field testing.


I had no idea my post, the leophone website, the video I spent weeks creating, ...would all be seen as an elaborate scheme to collect information on cops. It's crazy.  I'm glad not everyone on PL shares that opinion.  Several people understand the need for an access code and have already registered so I appreciate it.

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Rate This | Posted about 4 years ago

 

You might post a link to your video. while video's ae blocked at work, it would save me from looking it up later when i'm home.

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Rate This | Posted about 4 years ago

 

Sorry about that... the video is at www.leophone.com.  You will just need to enter the access code that I placed in the LE-restricted group, LEOphone (there is a link there too). 


Also, I live in the Phoenix area.  I would be happy to meet with someone and actually demo the various technologies so you can see how they work.  I have been using them for the last year so I could highlight the strengths and limitations.  I could even demo some of them remotely if anyone is interested.  We would just need to do a GoToMeeting or something like that, which I can setup.  Thanks again for your interest.

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Rate This | Posted about 4 years ago

 

Robocop33 says ...



I would never use my personal cell phone for official duty as it then becomes evidence and the defense has the right to suponea and look though all the history etc of that phone including your personal information. If you must, buy a disposable phone.



I had a patrolman use his cell phone to photograph a crime scene instead of using the dept camera.  I promptly took his camera as evidence and it took me 2 days to get around to download the photo's.  I told him next time it may take me a month to download the pictures. 


Hello my name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die.

"It's not a constitutional violation for a police officer to be a jerk." Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy -December 4, 2000

Bronzestarribbon_max50

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Rate This | Posted about 4 years ago

 

Has anyone else seen the case out of new Mexico or Arizona re: the defense attny subpoening the personal cellphone records of an officer for a DUI or something?  I can't recall the state or circumstance, but I did read it and the Prosecutor, AZ I believe, was on the hot seat withhte Judge because she faught against the officer having to provide it all.  Obviously the subpoena won out, but the read is a good read and it made me think twice about what I want out there in court regarding texting and phone calls content. 


The officer had to disclose his records, but they were not entered into the court journal or record.  They were reviewed in the Judge's Chambers by DA and Defense Attny.  Our aqgency will issue on call officers a pager and a cellphone, but so many of us get used to using our own and reading that article makes a person go HHMMMM. 


Now to defend my statement, when I text, its boring stuff, but some do sexting and that could be embarrassing as the Congressman found out, then one has to be aware of discussing case sensitive stuff, even LEO to LEO, over a phone or text.  Not something I do or recommend doing, due to analog phones and some digital mediums being able to be evesdropped on or recorded.  Its just some FYI that I found and wanted to throw out there on PL for a "Things that make ya go HMMM".  Be safe all the way around!

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Rate This | Posted about 4 years ago

 

In a perfect world we would all be issued cell phones to use on duty.  That way we could keep our personal calls and text messages separate from all our police-related activity.  The problem is, many departments simply cannot afford to pay $50 per month for every officer.  So the reality is for many departments (right or wrong) that many officers ARE using their personal cell phone for police business.  And to be clear, I consider any call in support of my law enforcement duties an "official" call.  I am not only talking about calling suspects and witnesses; when I call another department to confirm a warrant... that is an official call.  And I am also not talking about taking crime scene photos... none of our officers do that...I am talking about using our personal cell to make calls.   


For those of you who say you never use your personal cell phone for any official business, are you issued a department phone?  Do you use a payphone?  Do you drive to the station and use a landline?  Or do you not have much of a need to make calls from the road?  Or do you mean that you use it call other cops and departments, but nobody else? 


In my department, we have to make calls all the time.  If every officer completely stopped using their personal cell phone, productivity would drop drastically. 


It would be interesting to learn just how many of us are issued department phones.


Interesting discussion everyone.  And it seems a lot of people are registering at LEOphone.com.  Thanks!

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Rate This | Posted about 4 years ago

 

having been in the chief ranks, I can tell you this,, a chief can budget anything he wants to. That is complete bs if someone tells you they cant afford it.


If you look at down time everytime a cop drives to the  pd to make a call, a cell phone pays for itself in a week. Not to mention customer service is greatly enhanced. I think you need a sit down with your chief. I dont know of any dept that doesnt provide cells for patrol, if nothing else they are assigned to the cars, if not the individual officer.

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Rate This | Posted about 4 years ago

 

Over the last year I have personally checked with about 25 different departments across the country ranging in size from 30-3000 officers.  So far, not one of them provides cell phones to every patrol officer.  Granted there are more than 17,000 agencies across the country so my sample size is pretty small, but still, I would have expected to find a few that issue cell phones to everyone if it was that prevalent. 


My department assigns one to each squad, which the on-duty sergeant carries and passes on to the next sergeant.  We could ask him/her to show up on scene every time we needed a cell phone but that is simply not practical.  I agree with you 100% that the quality of customer service is vastly improved if we could use a cell phone regularly. The reason the chief does not make it a priority is because officers ARE using their personal cell phones.  If we all stopped, which won't happen, then the department's priorities might change.  But as it is, the department gets the benefit of cell phones at the patrol level without having to pay for it. 

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Rate This | Posted about 4 years ago

 

well I cant argue your particular position, but if the patrol guys are funding it themselves, then there is no incentive for the chief to do so.


sounds like you have a start with the sargeants having them and in the cars, so work from there. I wouldnt advise any patrol officer to use his phone in the course of duty, as previously stated.

Newpatch_sq90_max50

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Rate This | Posted about 4 years ago

 

Wow, I have never worked for a department that didn't furnish a department cell phone to an officer.  If they didn't furnish the phone, I would not use mine for police business. 


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Rate This | Posted about 4 years ago

 


Our Sheriff's Office issues us pagers to receive calls, & then we have to use our personal cells to call back using *67 per call or just block every call from our phones by calling our service provider and setting it up to do so for a monthly fee.

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