Monday, January 2, 2012
Is CMPD Deleting Emails In Violation of North Carolina Public Records Law?
Here is an interesting item turned up by City News Watch.
In a June 16, 2011 memo CMPD's Ron Horton explains some in's and out's of email deletion. His memo sent to all of CMPD addresses concerns about accidentally deleted emails, but it also sheds light on CMPD's ability to purposefully and permanently delete emails.
Notice Mr. Horton's comment on CMPD's "enterprise vault" and that he admits it doesn't always work. The purpose of using an enterprise vault is to provide a digital record of "every" email, document, spread sheet and correspondence ever created.
You might recall that CMPD Detective Arvin Fant was fired for destroying his personal notes taken while investigating the murder of Officers Sean Clark and Jeff Shelton. Could it be that CMPD Officers and Staff are doing the same thing, destroying notes, emails and records everyday?
From: Horton, Ron
Sent: Thursday, June 16, 2011 11:02 AM
To: _CMPD everyone
Cc: Hampton, Denise; Sterrett, Todd
Subject: What happens to emails you delete - and a caution
We have received numerous Help Desk tickets concerning items that were deleted by accident and cannot be recovered.
It will help to understand how the City email system now handles Deleted emails, as it is different from how CMPD used to do it - and different from how standard Microsoft installations of Outlook (such as you may have at home) do it.
The MOST IMPORTANT thing to understand is:
Each time you exit Outlook, your deleted folder is emptied.
If you want to find an item you deleted and you have exited Outlook since you deleted it, then it will NOT be in the deleted folder. The next step is to go to "Tools" then "Recover Deleted Items." If the item was sent or received in the last few days, it may be there. If it is not, you'll have to open a Help Desk ticket and give as many details as possible for us to pass on to the City so they can search for your deleted item in the Vault.
"But don't we have an Enterprise Vault that stores every email ever sent?" you may ask - and we do have such a vault.
But the rules of what gets in there are tricky. For example, yesterday when I looked in the Vault for a particular deleted email, there were no items in there for April, May, or June.
It's still worth a try - click on the "Search Vaults" or "Archive Explorer" icons in the very top menu bar in Outlook - they are on the right beside the "?" Help icon. If you can't find it there, then submit the Help Desk ticket.
"So how do I avoid completely losing items when I accidentally delete them?" One way to do this is to create a folder that you label "Deleted storage" or something like that and then if you get ready to delete an item you MIGHT want to recover (I know, it's a judgment call) then instead of deleting it, just drag it over to that folder. Then periodically go into that folder and delete items that are old enough that you feel comfortable you will never need them.
Just remember - consider the Delete key permanent, and handle your email accordingly.
If you have any questions please direct them to me or Cheryl Campbell.
Computer Technology Solutions
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department