LBPD Used Mobile App That Caused Certain Texts/Communications To Vanish And Become Inaccessible; City Issues This Statement columnist Downing uncovered the story is reader and advertiser supported. Support independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.
(Sept. 18, 2018, 6:30 p.m.) -- The City of Long Beach today (Sept. 18) issued a statement effectively acknowledging that over a period of years, it has been using a mobile application that automatically causes certain text messages or similar communications to disappear and make them virtually inaccessible in the future.

The story was uncovered by Steve Downing, a columnist for the Beachcomber who told that he'd learned about LBPD's use of "TigerText" from sources inside LBPD, made a Public Records Act for documents to pursue it, and the City informed him that it had no responsive documents. Mr. Downing said he then communicated with ACLU which made its own Public Records Act request...and received responsive documents, which it shared with Mr. Downing. Mr. Downing then shared the story with Al Jazeera which began its own parallel investigation and published its own story this morning (Sept. 18) as an "exclusive" (without mentioning Mr. Downing.) A few hours later, Mr. Downing published his own online account on that described his role in uncovering the story.

A City statement today (Sept. 18) from Public Affairs Officer Kevin Lee follows verbatim:

[City of Long Beach Sept. 18 statement]

Statement Regarding Tiger Connect Mobile Application

Effective immediately, and after consultation with the Offices of the City Manager and City Attorney, and the Chief of Police, the City is suspending any use of the Tiger Connect application pending further review of whether the use is consistent with the City’s record retention policy and administrative regulations for the use of mobile devices. The City has confirmed that no other department, besides the Long Beach Police Department, utilizes Tiger Connect on City mobile devices for public business.

Recent Public Records Act requests and media inquiries prompted the City of Long Beach to initiate a review of its use of the Tiger Connect secure texting communication application. The Tiger Connect application has been used by the Police Department since 2014.

Use of the application began when the Police Department transitioned to iPhones, which did not have a built in secure communication feature sufficient for the needs of the Department. The primary purpose of the Tiger Connect application was to allow for a continued means of transitory, immediate, and secure communications regarding operational and personnel matters. Police Department employees have been trained to and do document any exculpatory/discoverable evidence in a police report or other formal departmental communication.

Of the 291 Police Department-issued mobile devices, the Tiger Connect texting application is installed on 145 mobile devices, including the mobile devices of Command Staff, and specialized details such as Homicide and Internal Affairs. For reference, the Police Department has a total of 1,214 employees.

As part of the review of internal communication practices, the City will be reviewing best practices, current case law, and City policies.

TigerText's company website indicates tha application is designed for use in medical messaging and communications to efficiently ensure the privacy and protection of patient/medical related content.

The full implications of today's revelations -- potentially affecting LBPD criminal cases and prosecutions and various civil contexts (including the Public Records Act) -- will be developing over the coming days, weeks and beyond.






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