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  • Tracking & tracing text messages: Best practices?

    This is something we don't deal with in our rural department very often, but the issue of threatening text messages has come up WRT violation of a protection order/ witness intimidation.

    What is the current "best practice" for obtaining a copy of a phone record and proving from whom certain text messages came?

    What are the pitfalls we'll have to plan for (somebody else sent it, it wasn't me, etc, etc)?

    Anything else to consider?
    "I am a Soldier. I fight where I'm told and I win where I fight." -- GEN George S. Patton, Jr.

    "With a brother on my left and a sister on my right, we face…. We face what no one should face. We face, so no one else would face. We are in the face of Death." -- Holli Peet

  • #2
    What does your DA say?
    Now go home and get your shine box!

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    • #3
      Originally posted by CCCSD View Post
      What does your DA say?
      "Bring me a 110% tight case, and we'll get the arrest warrant".

      Seriously, I'm not the one dealing with the DA.

      I don't want to go into details, but my division isn't the one that would normally investigate something like this. My boss sort of backed into it as part of something else. I got roped in due to certain experience I have that's relevant and I'm trying to be as useful as I can, because I take the underlying offense personally.

      We have investigators and other resources we can access, I'm just trying to get a better idea of the process than the brief touch they gave it in the academy... and also to see if there's anything new under the sun.
      Last edited by tanksoldier; 01-18-2015, 10:19 PM.
      "I am a Soldier. I fight where I'm told and I win where I fight." -- GEN George S. Patton, Jr.

      "With a brother on my left and a sister on my right, we face…. We face what no one should face. We face, so no one else would face. We are in the face of Death." -- Holli Peet

      Comment


      • #4
        I'm not too sure how basic you are asking about. I don't think anyone is going to get too in depth on investigative techniques. You start with an official email or fax instructing the data carrier to maintain the record/s in question (some dump them very fast), followed by a search warrant.

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        • #5
          Ask your local FBI office?
          Now go home and get your shine box!

          Comment


          • #6
            You start with an official email or fax instructing the data carrier to maintain the record/s in question (some dump them very fast), followed by a search warrant.
            The main question is: Can the victim give us access to their records voluntarily, and would that be sufficient, or do we need the records from the suspect's side, too?

            My main concern is the "these aren't my pants" defense.

            I normally drive inmates around, look intimidating when the boss wants to make a point with somebody and occasionally help drag uncooperative mooks out of their cells/ pods.

            Complex investigations aren't part of my routine.
            Last edited by tanksoldier; 01-18-2015, 11:01 PM.
            "I am a Soldier. I fight where I'm told and I win where I fight." -- GEN George S. Patton, Jr.

            "With a brother on my left and a sister on my right, we face…. We face what no one should face. We face, so no one else would face. We are in the face of Death." -- Holli Peet

            Comment


            • #7
              Tank, pm me with agency info and I can give you some pointers once I can at least make sure you're a cop. This stuff isn't hard it's just intimidating if you've never done it.

              Comment


              • #8
                Our DA office will not prosecute text/FB/etc PFA violations.

                I tell people to turn off Facebook and get a new phone number.
                All Gave Some - Some Gave All

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Resq14 View Post
                  Our DA office will not prosecute text/FB/etc PFA violations.
                  Violation of protection order, violation of bond conditions, witness tampering/ intimidation... on top of the other stuff.
                  "I am a Soldier. I fight where I'm told and I win where I fight." -- GEN George S. Patton, Jr.

                  "With a brother on my left and a sister on my right, we face…. We face what no one should face. We face, so no one else would face. We are in the face of Death." -- Holli Peet

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    We just take a photo of the offending texts on the victim's phone showing who sent it and the content and attach it to the report. I also tell the victim to save it on their phone when they go to court. It's the same for Harassing/Threatening/Violation of Protection Order.
                    Obedience to Law is Liberty.

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                    • #11
                      PM me your agency email address, and I will give you the process and contacts.
                      Why do we try so Hard for Little things, and so Little for Hard things?

                      "There is no happiness without tears; no life without death. Beware, I will give you cause to weep"

                      R.I.P Hand Sanitizer, you will be missed…

                      Remember, Gay, Straight, Black, White, or HIV+, on this forum you're "Blue" and that's what matters most.

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                      • #12
                        The best advice is to see what your DA prefers. Either talk to them directly or you can ask a detective or someone in your department who contacts them regularly and get clarification.

                        Generally, if the victim will give you their phone records, great. Get a copy and attach it to the report. If they are desiring a report and want to be a victim this shouldn't be a problem. If they are not willing to supply this to you, I am not going to waste my time going any further, because obviously it is not a concern for them.

                        Following that, I usually fire off a preservation letter to the suspect's carrier as well. Our detectives handle non-emergency search warrants and court orders, but if you were in the mood you could do that also and get the suspect's information to attach to the report. You can also follow up with the suspect and try to get a confession. That is about as airtight of a case as you can get.

                        On patrol, I don't usually submit reports like these to the DA without a suspect confession or some other event where I can link the suspect immediately. Usually, I write up the case and submit it to investigations. Once they get what they need, they submit the case. In terms of "best practice" for obtaining a copy of the phone records, it is through a court order or search warrant sent to the suspect's phone carrier. PM me and I can send you a website where all of the addresses, fax numbers, etc. are listed for all the phone carriers (and other businesses as well).

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                        • #13
                          Update: It was decided to pass this off to our detectives. We just don't have the time and expertise to do it right along with everything else we have to do.

                          They were able to get the DA to sign off on a warrant for a Class 4 felony. Not the exact charge we wanted but it will do.

                          In the mean time it looks like the suspect fled the state and is in Texas somewhere... so violation of bond conditions and violation of probation on top of that.
                          "I am a Soldier. I fight where I'm told and I win where I fight." -- GEN George S. Patton, Jr.

                          "With a brother on my left and a sister on my right, we face…. We face what no one should face. We face, so no one else would face. We are in the face of Death." -- Holli Peet

                          Comment

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