The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a warning about rioters gaining access to the personal information of police officers and following them back to their homes.
An unclassified copy of the DHS intelligence document obtained and reported by The Associated Press showed the agency warned various police agencies that rioters had obtained the addresses of police officers and were spreading the information through online channels, then following officers home.
The DHS memo noted efforts to disseminate sensitive personal information about police, known as “doxxing,” helps rioters target officers at their homes, providing an opportunity for “violent opportunists or domestic violent extremists.” Personal information in these doxxing efforts include physical addresses, email addresses and phone numbers.
Boston 25 News separately reported the DHS warning and said four Boston Police officers had already reported that they were followed home.
The outlet also noted DHS warnings had been issued for police in Boston, Washington D.C., Atlanta and several other cities, and the FBI had issued an “officer safety advisory” to the Boston Police Department, which warned of “credible intelligence” that rioters were seeking the addresses of police officers through public payroll records.
The reports of police doxxing come on the heels of widespread calls to reform and even defund police agencies over concerns about police brutality. On May 25, a black Minnesota man, George Floyd, was killed while in Minneapolis police custody. Video emerged of Floyd being pinned to the ground, with an officer’s knee on the back of his neck for nearly nine minutes. He was later pronounced dead. His death set off allegations of police brutality and four Minneapolis Police Department officers have been criminally charged in connection with his death.
Since Floyd’s death, demonstrations have spread nationwide, with claims of unfair and racially motivated police tactics. While some protests have been peaceful, there has also been a widespread pattern of rioting, looting and violence. Police have also been the subjects of some of the violence.
Four police officers in St. Louis, Miss. and another officer in Las Vegas, Nevada were shot and injured while responding to rioting last week.
One officer in Santa Cruz, Calif. was killed by a gunman who ambushed police with explosives and multiple firearms. Another officer was critically injured in the attack and a third was hit in the hand. Investigators believe the suspect in the Santa Cruz attack, active-duty U.S. Air Force staff sergeant Steven Carrillo, may have also been involved in the shooting murder of a DHS officer in Oakland, Calif. a week prior.