By Ben Douglas
Remember how excited you were upon completing the academy and getting sworn in? I sure do. What an amazing day honoring a great accomplishment. Back then, standing on the stage, shaking hands with the chief, it was easy to think about how we’re adored by those citizens we swear to protect. Surrounded by family and friends at the graduation it seemed like everybody loved us. Hate was the furthest thought from my mind.
Reality has an evil way of rearing its ugly head. It doesn’t take too long on patrol to realize there are so many out there who truly hate cops. There are a slew of reasons for them to hate us: We take away people’s freedoms, we cause them to be fined for not paying attention to the rules, and worst of all, we make them turn down the music and pretty much tell them to stop having fun. Party poopers.
Aside from those who hate us there are those who would do us harm. We receive threats from people we’ve arrested all the time. Knowing this is important, does it mean we have to hide who we are?
I grew up a few miles from Camp Pendleton and the kids I hung out with were often from military families. These families knew all about Operational Security. Kids watched OPSEC military commercials on television, saw propaganda posters at the commissary and learned about it in grade school.
OPSEC is all about protecting the little bits of information you share with your family and command from those who might be able to piece those bits into a larger image of their enemy. Don’t talk about your work within earshot of others. Take a different route to work or school every day. Keep them guessing.
Applying OPSEC to our current way of life can be tricky. If you participate in any form of social media you may be advertising your life to anyone with a computer. Today we have GPS in our phones and cameras. Those phones can be tracked, and since every photo we take with them has a location tag, it’s not hard to know where we’ve been and where we frequent. We use email, texting and cell phones for most of our communication. Every bit of that information is recorded to some database somewhere. Don’t think for a minute those databases are completely secure.