As the editor for Officer.com I've recently been presented with some questions, comments and observations that have made me think. I've found myself contemplating everything from privacy issues to contributor qualifications to how I moderate comments and the forums. Since our readership is obviously the heart and soul of our website service, I thought it might be prudent to share some of that with you. Privacy: Identity Theft has been a hot topic for the past several years and virtually every not-brain-dead adult citizen is all too aware of the negative potential impact on their lives if their identity is stolen. Law enforcement professionals, however, often have a different motivation for protecting their identities online: they don't wish to become - or have their families become - targets for revenge or violence. For that very reason those who comment or use our forums often use a handle or screen name that doesn't hint at their true identity. Since I took the editor's job just over two years ago there have been on-going requests on the forums for a section that was only accessible by confirmed law enforcement professionals. Several have commented that competitor sites have such and one even went so far as to start a site of his own. He confirms sworn status by taking your name, agency and agency phone number and he calls the agency to confirm your employment status. Users, I assume, take it on faith that he's not keeping all that info for future use or subpoena by your agency. For our part we did as requested: we set up a specific forum section that is open only to verified sworn law enforcement personnel. To gain access a registered user is required to fax me a copy of their credentials and their username. I will enable the appropriate permissions for access and then destroy (shred) the fax. Are you having to trust me to accomplish this? Yep. You're taking it on faith. I invite you to do so as you see fit. Contributors: Our editorial content is provided by a team of contributors and currently we put up at least one new editorial piece each week day. Sometimes we put up two and our editorial content is growing (we took a hit as the economy tanked but we're recovering nicely) Inevitably, for every editorial piece that is posted we get comments that are both positive and negative. As the editor it falls to me to decide which comments get posted and which get deleted. I know that not everyone will agree with my choices, but I figured I should share my motivations just the same. If a comment is posted that is positive about the article and/or supportive of law enforcement in general, it will get approved and posted. If a comment is submitted that is critical of the article or disagrees with an outlook presented, provided the comment is respectfully worded, I'll post it too. However, if a comment questions the integrity of the author or is insulting to the author or law enforcement in general, then it's NOT going to get posted. We are a law enforcement website. Submitting comments that are anti-LE, spew hate, or are insulting to our editorial team are not going to be approved and posted. Why in the world would you think they would? Our contributors come from an assortment of backgrounds. All are highly respected by the majority of those who know them and are familiar with their backgrounds. Virtually every one of them has been negatively questioned at some time - meaning their background has been questioned; their expertise has been questioned; their motivations have been questioned, etc. Every expert or author alive who has faced such questions and has either had to answer them or ignore them. When it's a disenchanted one-tenth of one percent who are spewing the negative comments and questions, I tend to ignore them. Each of our submitters has been deemed sufficiently familiar enough with their topic content to be writing for us. If you disagree then I believe your opinion must be based on your own expertise in the topic area and therefore you are more qualified to write for Officer.com than the author in question. If that's the case, I invite you to submit your resume to be considered as a contributor. If you're not willing to put up your own expertise and experience in support of your negative comments or insults, then please save me the trouble of even having to delete them. All that said, if you ARE an expert in a given field and you ARE interested in becoming a contributor for Officer.com, please send me an email with a resume and the topic area you're interested in covering. Let's open a dialogue and explore the possibilities. My email address is [email protected]. Stay safe!