Busted: CA Police Dept Used Self-Erasing “TigerText” Messaging App to Conceal Evidence

by | Sep 19, 2018 | Headline News | 14 comments

Do you LOVE America?


    A police department in California has gotten busted for using a smartphone app that automatically and permanently deletes text messages, possibly (and probably) to hide incriminating evidence.

    From Al Jazeera:

    Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit has discovered that a self-deleting messaging app called Tiger Text has been adopted by at least one US police department, which may have used it to share sensitive and potentially incriminating information that they wouldn’t want to be disclosed to a court.

    Current and former officers from the Long Beach Police Department in Southern California have told Al Jazeera that their police-issued phones had Tiger Text installed on them.

    The TigerText app erases text messages after a designated time period. Once the messages have been deleted, they cannot be retrieved – even through forensic investigation of the phone.

    The police officers who spoke with Al Jazeera said the confidential messaging system was used to share details of police operations and sensitive personnel issues.

    Two officers said their superiors instructed them to use the app to “have conversations with other officers that wouldn’t be discoverable”. The officers said they understood this to include exculpatory evidence that could potentially be useful to attorneys in both civil and criminal cases against the police department.

    “I find it odd that we have a communication system that circumvents everything that we are supposed to be doing,” an officer (who is still with the department) told Al Jazeera. But “nothing surprises me working there.”

    Local news site the Beachcomber reports that they were told about the TigerText app back in February 2018, when a confidential source inside the LBPD informed them that the app “was in use by detectives assigned to narcotics, gangs, intelligence and homicide units, including detectives who investigate officer involved shootings”.

    The source told the Beachcomber that when the app was assigned, the detectives were not given any written instructions regarding use, but were told: “The app is to be used in situations where we don’t want the texting information to get out to the public – or to be discoverable.”

    What kinds of things might the LBPD (and other police departments that use TigerText and similar apps) be trying to hide?

    Well, for starters, the LBPD ranked fifth in the US for officer-involved shootings per capita in 2015. The city has paid out tens of millions of dollars in civil lawsuit settlements to the families of the victims.

    One former police officer told Al Jazeera he believes this is what motivated the department to start using the app:

    “There have been a number of officer-involved shooting cases that have hurt the department. This is a way for them to conceal and get away with some of the negative things that affect their liability with these cases.”

    Mohammad Tajsar, a lawyer with the ACLU of Southern California, told Al Jazeera that he was shocked by the officers’ claims:

    “If the department brass instructed members of the force to use TigerText to shield from the public the disclosure of sensitive messages about investigations into police killings, then this is an institutional cover-up of the highest order, designed to protect a department that is notorious for killing people.”

    Tajsar told The San Diego Union-Tribune that it appears that Long Beach is circumventing a California law that requires cities to preserve records for two years:

    “It might potentially throw into doubt the validity of a whole host of cases. You have the prospect of destroyed evidence in a whole bunch of cases.… It’s very important, in fact critical, that the city conduct a thorough investigation into the use of TigerText — how its officers communicated using it, what they communicated and the impact of those communications on prior cases.”

    Al Jazeera’s investigation into the use of TigerText revealed that the Georgia Department of Corrections also began using the application in 2013, but “lawyers for the department quickly decided that its use would likely violate Georgia law, possibly breaching the state’s records retention legislation and most likely leading to court discovery violations”.

    According to the city, the TigerText application is installed on 145 of the 291 cellphones issued by the LBPD. That includes the phones of the command staff, as well as homicide and internal affairs investigators. The department employs 1,214 workers and has used the app since 2014.

    In a statement Tuesday, the city announced that the LBPD has suspended use of the app over concerns that it may violate the city’s record retention policy, which raises questions about whether evidence was destroyed in cases.

    The decision to suspend the use of TigerText came “pending further review of whether the use is consistent with the city’s record retention policy and administrative regulations for the use of mobile devices,” the statement explains.

    Recent Public Records Act requests and media inquiries have prompted the department to review of the use of the app, reports The San Diego Union-Tribune.

    The city said the Police Department began using the app when it transitioned to iPhones, which “did not have a built-in secure communication feature sufficient” for the agency.

    “The primary purpose of the TigerConnect application was to allow for a continued means of transitory, immediate and secure communications regarding operational and personnel matters,” the city said. “Police Department employees have been trained to and do document any exculpatory/discoverable evidence in a police report or other formal departmental communication.”

    TigerText is promoted as a messaging app for healthcare providers that is secure and compliant with federal patient privacy rules. It is unclear how many police departments use the app.


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      1. Destroying evidence is a crime. It’s no different than destroying law enforcement records.

        • MAR
          Damn strait it is. Someone should pay. NOP ONE IS ABOVE THE LAW, NO ONE!!!

          • Sarge, that whole affair qualifies as OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE from where I stand. It’s corruption and the present anti-public mentality within your chose profession that has totally undermined it and the judicial system. Both have lost whatever legitimacy they ever had. I understand that taking video of cops in public is controversial but there are several federal court rulings upholding the practice. According to a US Supreme Court ruling, nobody has any expectation of privacy when they are out in public. That also applies to cops.

        • Need to put an ankle GPS Tracking device on every pig and politician out there.

          This is why we have the 2nd Amendment. To protect ourselves from scum tyrants.

      2. TSB, I won’t be surprised when someone is forced to shoot one in their own self-defense. It’s only a matter of time until that happens.

      3. I grew up in Long Beach.
        I’ve lived here for 50 years.
        Back in my high school days, we knew most of the cops that patrolled our neighborhoods. Their kids went to school with us and they knew most of us by name. We respected them.
        Todays LBPD are a bunch of outsider Thugs who treat citizens with disdain. Corruption should not be tolerated!

      4. I grew up in Long Beach.
        I’ve lived here for 50 years.
        Back in my high school days, we knew most of the cops that patrolled our neighborhoods. Their kids went to school with us and they knew most of us by name. We respected them.
        Todays LBPD are a bunch of outsider Thugs who treat citizens with disdain. Corruption should not be tolerated!

        • True Grit, good points. Do you ever see any of the Chinese that are supposedly at the old naval base?

      5. Ahh, America’s finest circumventing the law yet again. Do you copsuckers still believe police are upstanding people with your best interests in mind?
        “There have been a number of officer-involved shooting cases that have hurt the department. This is a way for them to conceal and get away with some of the negative things that affect their liability with these cases.”- And I bet not one cop was fired or found guilty of any wrongdoing in any of the shootings either.

      6. Yes, they are “trained” to document evidence. Unless it is harmful to the police!

      7. MacSalvo, please contact me for more information on the illegal actions of law enforcement in Orange County CA where I live and have been a targeted individual for about 6 years. I also have others that I can contact you with. There is so much more to this story.
        Illegal electronic surveillance in motel rooms, license plate readers, Stingray technology and so one. I kniw where they are planted and disguised from the public.

        Then there is the targeting of political opposition by the DHS FBI FBI FUSION CENTERS, INFRAGARD and their profitting from violationg a persons civil liberties and civil rights. Private citizens are constantly targeting me in order to stay employed with tax payer dollars and squash my political beliefs and exercising my right to vote.

        Contact me a story that is difficult to believe until you see the evidence. Act now before I am terminated. Multiple attempts have been made to force me to suicide and murder. Yes murder.

        24/7/365. I am still alive and have nothing to lose.

        • James Jameson, I hope you’re armed to the teeth, trained in the use of weapons, and willing to use them if forced to do so. That’s what it’s coming to for all of us out here.

      8. Again , Who’s watching the watchman . Fire all LEO”s and start all over . Who runs the checks on the check checkers ?

      9. Sure a lot of speculations and assumptions being made here. Unless you know for sure what was deleted, there is zero evidence of wrong doing. That said. The app needs to go. Outlaw its use by police.

        Long Beach is a terrific place, lovely.


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