General Policy Information
Latest Revision Date: 11/20/2013
Title 1 - Department Structure and Function
Title 2 - Department Employment
Title 3 - Employee Welfare
Title 4 - Human Resources
Title 5 - Employee Conduct
Title 6 - Arrests, Search and Seizure
Title 7 - Evidence and Property
Title 8 - Use of Force
Title 9 - Equipment and Uniforms
Title 10 - Police Facilities & Security
Title 11 - Detainee Management
Title 12 - Department Information Systems
Title 13 - Vehicle Operations
Title 14 - Emergency Operations
Title 15 - Primary Investigation
Title 16 - Patrol Operations
Effective Date: 8/31/2011
A. General: It is the purpose of this policy to provide employees with guidance on the proper use of Department owned personal computers for the purposes of disseminating electronic mail and utilizing services on the Internet. The Seattle Police Department provides e-mail service and Internet access for the purpose of conducting Department business.
1. City Ownership: The Seattle Police Department owns the computers, e-mail, and Internet access systems. As such, the Department may monitor and review e-mail/Internet use for compliance with this Section. The employer retains the right to determine what is and is not appropriate for the workplace.
2. Personal Use: While there are specific unauthorized uses of the Internet and e-mail, the Department also allows limited personal use of the Internet and e-mail, a concept that recognized the reality of the workplace. Occasional personal use is permissible if it is consistent with the Seattle Police Department’s policies and procedures and the usage standards set by the City of Seattle.
3. Public Disclosure: There is no expectation of privacy in the use of Department e-mail or Internet services on Department owned computers. All use of Department computers, whether official or personal, is subject to public disclosure laws and can be discoverable in a lawsuit.
4. Professionalism: All e-mail communications and Internet use must comply with Seattle Police Manual Sections 5.001 - Standards & Duties and 5.080 - Harassment in the Workplace. All communications written via the Internet shall be professional, appropriate, and lawful. Personal opinions or preliminary observations should clearly be identified as such.
B. E-Mail: E-mail is an essential tool in the Seattle Police Department’s communications matrix, therefore all employees will adhere to the following e-mail guidelines during regular duty hours:
1. High Importance E-Mail: Employees are required to read and review all High Importance e-mail communications once per shift, High Importance Outlook e-mail is marked with an orange exclamation point. Employees are required to respond (when applicable) to High Importance e-mail communication within four business days, or less than four business days if required by the subject matter. The High Importance classification will be used for the following e-mail communications:
• Command Staff Communications
• Special Orders
• Training Digests
• All other communications that are job related, time sensitive and mandatory for the recipient. This includes but is not limited to court subpoenas, wanted bulletins, information bulletins, investigative follow-up requests, statement requests, pre-trial discovery requests, seizure hearing notices, etc.
The use of a High Importance classification for any other e-mail communication must be approved by a lieutenant or above.
2. Routine E-Mail: Employees will respond appropriately to all other routine, work related e-mail communications.
3. Absence Notifications: Employees who have advance knowledge that they will be unable to respond to e-mail for a period that exceeds four business days are required to activate their “vacation rule”.
4. System Failures: Employees are not required to read or respond to e-mail during a system outage or technical failure that prevents the receipt or sending of e-mail. However, employees must verbally notify a supervisor of their inability to read or respond to e-mail prior to going off shift. Employees are not required to read or respond to e-mail while off-duty.
5. External E-Mails: All e-mail correspondence going outside the Department will contain the employees contact information including e-mail address, business address and business phone numbers.
6. General Distribution Messages: All general distribution messages (e.g. SPDALL) will comply with the following:
• Shall be approved by a permanent rank Lieutenant or above and will include the name of the approving Lieutenant and date of approval.
• When sending an email with a large distribution list, for example SPDALL or SPDSWORN, use the “Bcc” (blind carbon copy) feature to include the recipients. The “Bcc” feature will prevent unnecessary disclosure of email addresses and reduce vulnerability to spam. The “Bcc” feature will improve the chances of the email being successfully sent, because the “To” feature is not designed to handle a large number of addresses.
7. Images, Photographs and PDFs - Outlook E-Mail and the MDT: Images, Photographs and PDFs shall not be embedded (copy and paste) in an e-mail narrative when the e-mail may possibly be opened from an MDT. The embedded items can cause MDT failures, therefore all Images, Photographs and PDFs shall be attached to an e-mail and not embedded in the narrative. The attachment rule applies whenever there is potential an e-mail will be opened from an MDT and specifically includes e-mails addressed to SPDALL and SPDSWORN.
8. Received E-Mail Attachments: E-mail is a primary source for computer virus attacks. Employees should not open e-mail attachments from an unknown source. Employees should contact ITS if they have questions about an attachment.
9. Sensitive Information: E-mail is not a secure system and should not be utilized for communicating sensitive information.
10. News Groups and Bulletin Boards: Employees may use their city e-mail address to subscribe to news groups or to post on electronic bulletin boards, provided that doing so is a requirement of their assignment or has specific Departmental benefit.
11. Shared Mailboxes: Employees must request “Send As” privileges for a shared mailbox and/or request that a shared mailbox be created by submitting a request via e-mail to their captain or captain-equivalent non-sworn manager. Once the request is approved, a help desk ticket or service request should be opened with the DOIT service desk, requesting the privileges.
12. Responsibilities of Supervisors and Managers: Department supervisors and managers are responsible for ensuring that their staff is familiar with and adhere to the Department’s e-mail policy.
C. Internet Use: Access to the Internet is provided to Department employees for the purpose of conducting official Department business. Primary criterion in the matters of use and misuse of the Internet will be that of reasonableness. The following guidelines are not meant to be exclusive, but rather are intended to provide a general framework of prohibited and acceptable Internet use:
1. Disruptions and Interference: Employee use of the Internet cannot disrupt or interfere with the work of other network users, or adversely affect the operation of the Internet, the City’s or the Department’s internal networks, or misrepresent the interest of the City or Department.
2. Legal Purposes Only: Employee use of the Internet shall not be for illegal purposes. All use of the Internet on Department computers must be in compliance with all applicable laws and policies. This includes policies on privacy issues, any release of confidential, sensitive, or classified information, or information exempt from public disclosure, as well as copyright or licensing regulations. Employees shall not copy, retrieve, modify or forward any copyrighted material, except as permitted by the copyright owner. A single copy of the material may be made for reference use only.
3. Personal For-Profit Business Use Prohibited: Employees shall not use the Department computer to conduct a personal for-profit business, although limited commercial transactions are permitted. (For example, purchase of a book through the Internet is acceptable, but conducting a consultant business while at work is not.)
4. Maintaining Personal Investments: Employees shall not use Department computers to review personal investments or to transact any type of investment business (for example, trading in stocks, bonds, or mutual funds). Employees are allowed infrequent, brief checks of the progress of an employee’s investments in the City’s Deferred Compensation Program, as this is a City-sponsored and City-maintained program.
5. Political Activity Prohibited: Employees shall not use the Department computer to participate in any campaign for elected office or for any other political activity. This includes a prohibition on making any campaign contributions via a credit card and using the Department computer to do so. Similarly, employees may not "lobby" elected officials through use of the Department’s computer.
6. Demeaning or Defamatory Conduct: Employees shall not use the Department computers to engage in demeaning or defamatory conduct with respect to other employees or citizens. Examples of such prohibited activities include knowingly accessing pornographic materials or sites that promote exclusivity, hatred, or positions which are contrary to the City’s policy of valuing cultural diversity.
7. Offensive or Harassing Material: Employees shall not knowingly access or communicate any material of an obscene, harassing, discriminatory or derogatory nature. Examples of such include sites or e-mail containing racial or sexual slurs or jokes, or containing harassing, intimidating, abusive, or offensive material to or about others.
8. Incurring Costs: Employees shall not access sites that incur a cost to the Department, unless prior approval is granted by a supervisor.
9. Installing Software: Employees shall not install software on Department computers without prior approval by the Information Technology system manager. See Seattle Police Manual Section 12.040 - Computer Software
10. Chat Rooms: Employees shall not enter chat rooms using Department computers unless it is done as a function of a specific assignment. Specific investigations utilizing Department computers in this manner must receive prior approval from the Section Captain.
11. Games Prohibited: Games are expressly prohibited from Department computers.
D. Accessing Sensitive Content Sites
1. Internet Logs: Units shall maintain a log to document access, or attempts to access a website that contains sensitive content as described in section D4 below. This log must be retained at the unit level for current year plus one.
2. Unintentional Access to Sensitive Content: If an employee accidentally accesses a website that contains pornographic, sexually explicit, inappropriate or illegal materials, they must immediately leave the site and notify a supervisor. The information regarding the inadvertent access shall be recorded on the internet log as specified in section D1 above.
3. Web Filtering: The City will utilize web filtering software intended to block access to most sites containing prohibited content. However, this does not guarantee that the site will be blocked. Regardless of whether the site is successfully blocked or not, the attempt to access the site is still recorded. Employees will notify a supervisor whenever the system notifies them that their attempt to access a web site was blocked. This will be recorded on the internet log specified in section D1 above.
4. Limited Sensitive Sites Use: The Department recognizes that certain Seattle Police Department employees may have a legitimate business purpose for accessing Internet sites/information that would otherwise be considered inappropriate or illegal (e.g., Vice Section detectives or Intelligence Unit detectives). In the event that employees need to access such "sensitive sites", employees shall abide by the following:
• Supervisor Approval: Employees shall obtain approval from an immediate supervisor before accessing "sensitive sites." The supervisor will e-mail DoIT_Help or call the DoIT Help Desk at 386-4011 to request an exception to the web filtering protocols. This request and approval by the supervisor will be documented on the internet log specified in section D1 above.
• Viewing Sensitive Sites: Employees are reminded that items appearing on a computer screen may be visible to other individuals. Employees accessing such "sensitive sites" should exercise appropriate courtesy and care when doing so (e.g., close the door, turn the screen away, notify other employees).
• Identification As City of Seattle Computer: Whenever accessing any site, sensitive or otherwise, employees are reminded that the sites are able to monitor and identify who is accessing them. In short, any site you access will know you are doing so from a City of Seattle computer.
• Investigations Ordinance: Employees are reminded that all uses of Department-owned computers are subject to the provisions of SMC Chapter 14.12, the Investigation Ordinance, and should adhere to the following guidelines to avoid a violation of the ordinance:
Storage of "restricted information" (as defined in the ordinance) on disks or computer/network drives must comply with the ordinance.
Do not create directories or subdirectories which organize/index "restricted information."
Do not transmit "restricted information" including World Wide Web addresses (URLs) to specific sites, via e-mail.
Do not create bookmarks or hotlists in your World Wide Web browsers which organize/index