While the most common way to get rid of incriminating letters in a novel is to burn them it has not been very popular for businesses and organizations for many years. There are several reasons why:
- Shredded paper can be recycled.
- Burning paper releases carbons into the atmosphere
- It is dangerous if not done properly.
- It is against the law in most urban areas.
- It is more expensive than just hiring a shredding company.
But the DC Police see it differently. Last month a dumpster was discovered at the police academy with burning police records. After the fire department was called more records were discovered in a nearby abandoned car.
It all sounds fishy but Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier says it is perfectly normal for the department. She said it is an approved method for getting rid of documents. But union Chairman Kristopher Baumann sees it a bit differently. He says, “The idea that in 2012, that we throw personnel records [in the trash] and light them on fire and hope for the best is unacceptable.”
While burning is an effective way to destroy documents it needs to have the same safeguards in place as any destruction program. There should be a written policy for the retention of the various types of documents the business produces. The destruction of the documents should take place on a regular schedule. The destruction should be monitored by manager and then what was destroyed must be documented. It is this organized, planned, and monitored destruction program that prevents organizations from running afoul of record retention laws.