Portland, Oreg., Police Chief Mark Kroeker has ordered all officers and civilian employees in eight divisions to sign confidentiality agreements to safeguard sensitive information, the Oregonian newspaper reports.
Kroeker said aim was to put employees on notice — from the public information officer to fiscal staff — that they are not to share confidential information they come across in their jobs.
The chief’s action surprised employees and union leaders, who question why an existing manual that covers confidential information isn’t sufficient. National police experts say they haven’t found anything as wide-reaching in other law enforcement agencies. “I’ve not seen that before in police departments,” said William Johnson of the National Association of Police Organizations, a coalition of police unions across the nation.
Employees criticized the definition of confidential information in the document as too broad. Some reluctantly signed it but also scribbled notes of protest on it. One union official called the confidentiality provisions “intimidating, and people are chilled in the rights of free speech … What’s sensitive? It’s not defined. I guess whatever the chief is sensitive about may be sensitive information. People will be very intimidated about saying anything.”
The agreement was not sent to patrol officers and detectives, but they could be included in the future. Violation could bring discipline.