Yes, the Internet has provided investigators with amazing tools, but it has also brought with it some very dark places. E-mail, porn sites, chat rooms, online shopping, have all caused grief not just for cops, but also for workers in all fields. At work you should always understand that someone might be monitoring everything that is happening on the agency's computers. That is what happened in Port St. Lucie. No inflammatory e-mails were sent to anyone. No co-workers dropped a dime. I'm sure it seemed harmless enough at the time, but the city's management information system has its own computers that monitor usage. According to Officer Vega, "The City's MIS picked up the unusual activity and notified the lieutenant, who notified the chief, who notified internal affairs." The rest, as they say, is now history.
No longer do just the walls have ears. The computers have eyes, and long memories, too. The "delete" button may remove files or e-mails from your view, but unless you are skilled in the workings of the mysterious digital world, your deleted files will be there for computer forensic investigators to find. If your computer is on a network, well, fuggetaboudit. It's been backed up, both on-site, off-site, on tape drives, discs, and who knows where else.
So what can you do with downtime in a detective squad? I suggest that you can work on your skills. Pick up a book like Practical Homicide Investigation by Vernon Geberth, or Dr. Henry Lee's Crime Scene Handbook. There are dozens of books on criminal investigations, including my own Criminal Investigations for the Professional Investigator that cover many different investigative specialties. If you don't like reading books and need to be near a computer, there are thousands of legitimate uses you can put Google to. Type in "Criminal Interview Technique" and see what's new, or "use of psychics" to see an article about paranormal detectives. Counterfeiting, narcotics investigations, sex crimes, and identity fraud are but a few of the disciplines you can learn about. It is possible to monkey around in your spare time, and learn something too.