...Or maybe we were just a bunch of History majors.
My point is, whether looking at us individually or collectively, without context there is little to distinguish why we were so immersed in such topics - and the study of such things is in no way wrong - and any misunderstanding or bias in the BI could unfairly taint the perception of a candidate. Since most investigators have little time to seek out contextual nuances it is likely anyone they have doubts about will be quickly passed over. Imagine a background investigator with an imposing stack of files to work through who finds something that raises a flag, at least in his mind, in the email or text log of a prospective candidate. Will the investigator practice due diligence to make sure the context is understood or just pass over the prospect as too high-risk? What will prevent individual bias from intruding and ending the aspirations of a potentially excellent cop? In one of the comments to the story, made by someone identified only as Wes, this is illustrated along with an excellent legal consideration:
as a previous HR manager (nonLE) it was my understanding that many questions should be avoided to prevent risk of lawsuits. Who did you vote for? Is about the same as a background investigation reading your threads on loveobama.com or impeachbush.org. Etc etc (sic)
Of course, as others pointed out, the process is voluntary, no one is entitled to a police job, and candidates have the option of bypassing those agencies asking for access into such personal areas of life as emails and texts in favor of departments with less stringent BIs. All true, but I only see the trend likely to grow until becoming the rule rather than an exception; and if it does, for any of the sundry reasons agencies will come defend the practice, will their next logical step be that they press those of us already employed for access to our information for all the same reasons?
Cyberspace is still largely the Wild West for law enforcement, with its challenges far from fully realized, so maybe it does make sense to scrutinize the movement of new recruits - and current officers - through it. I imagine many will think so, and would be glad to consider their defense of the practice. At what point are returns on such in-depth probes so diminished their potential for harm outweighs any good they may yield?
We welcome your thoughts.