A law enforcement officer’s guide to email

By Joel F. Shults, Ed.D.
for PoliceOne.com

Email is an electronic means of creating instant regret with the push of a button. I was reminded of this life lesson not too long ago with a message I wish I had never sent. Here are a few tips to remember before you lock and load that eMissile.

Keep your Finger off the Trigger
The “send” button is not your friend. As with any dangerous equipment, don’t engage anything unless you are certain of the result. Emails are safest when composed offline where editing can be done before the message is copied and pasted to the email text. No misfires that way.

Know What’s Downrange Past Your Target
Make sure the content of your message is laser sharp with no unintended targets. My most recent error was criticizing security arrangements for a big event honoring a beloved citizen. My concern was viewed as a potshot at this sacred cow and the intent of my message was lost in the emotional response. My message blew through the target and hit something I hadn’t thought enough about.

Watch for Ricochets
It’s possible for bystanders to be grazed by emails that go places you don’t intend. If you send an email and invisibly copy someone (the bcc function), you should be aware that if the receiving party used the “reply all” function, then the bcc recipient will get the response as well. The same is true for your reply — if you “reply all” you might be sending your angry response to someone you really don’t want to hear it.

To read the full article on PoliceOne.com, click here.