Not all police are honorable: Report shows top 10 list of Police Database Abuses

Tech TV

Law enforcement officers are supposed to protect and serve, but some cops
misuse police databases to get dates and more 

By James Hamilton, Web producer June 11, 2002

Your address, telephone number, Social Security number, date of birth,
criminal record -- all this data and more can be accessed by police
officers if they have basic information about you.  Some cops, however, use
their database access for less-than-honorable reasons.  This week on
"CyberCrime" we show you how some cops used police databases to harass exes
and even get telephone numbers of women they see in cars.

These abuses happen in law enforcement departments around the
world.  Here's 10 stories about cops who have abused their information
privileges in police departments in Michigan, California, Ohio, and even as
far away as Australia.

Cop Suspected of Using Database to Plan Murder of Ex-wife
A State Police detective whose estranged wife was shot dead at a Michigan
zoo admitted using the Law Enforcement Information Network (LEIN) to check
on his wife and her acquaintances, according to Lansing police search
warrant requests.
Although the detective is not suspected of pulling the trigger, the
Lansing, Michigan, police department says it believes he knows who shot his
wife a month after she filed for divorce.  Read the story.

Rookie Cop Checks on 'Potential Girlfriends':
6,900 Database Searches in Only Two Months An Australian constable new to
the beat used the police database to check on potential girlfriends.  In
just over two months the then 20-year-old policeman performed an
unprecedented 6,900 searches on the police database.  The counsel assisting
the case says that of those 6,900 searches at least 300 weren't connected
to official duties.  Read the story.

FBI Files Sold to Mob and International Criminals by Nevada Attorney
General's Office Employee and Former FBI Agent
Dubbed the "Secrets for Sale Scandal" by the Las Vegas media, an attorney
general's office worker and a former FBI agent were caught selling
information from the FBI NCIC database to organized crime syndicates and
other criminals for more than $100,000.

The office worker and the former agent sold documents containing classified
information about organized crime investigations, white collar crime
investigations, and investigations involving international alien
smuggling.  These documents were sold to members of organized crime
syndicates in New York and to an FBI informant.  One defendant's phone
records also shows that he had communications with people in Mexico and
Cuba and his passport listed recent visits to the drug cartel cities of
Medellin and Bogota, Colombia.

The former agent worked for the Las Vegas FBI for several years and had
access to national security and electronic surveillance information as well
as data on confidential informants and witnesses stored in the FBI's
nationwide computer system.  Read the story.

Indiana PD Banned From FBI Database
The Highland, Indiana, police department had its access to the state's FBI
database suspended due to misuse.  The revocation of Highland's access to
the Indiana Data and Communications System (IDACS), the state's portal into
the National Crime Information Center, is believed to be the first such
suspension in at least a decade.  State police auditors claim that local
investigators had been using the system to run checks on contractors and
door-to-door solicitors in direct violation of IDACS policy, and continued
to do so even after being warned.  Read the story.

Political Candidates Probed by Police Chief
The city attorney in Eastpointe, Michigan, is looking into allegations that
the police chief and city manager violated state law by using the Law
Enforcement Information Network (LEIN) to check the backgrounds of
candidates for an ethics committee.  The mayor ordered the investigation
after it was revealed that the city manager and police chief may have
violated state regulations governing LEIN use by checking backgrounds of
eight people considered for a volunteer committee created by the city
council.  Many people were surprised to find that first-time misuse of the
LEIN is not a crime.  Read the story.

Police Investigated for Using Database to Target Organizers of
Sheriff-Recall Campaign
Kansas Attorney General Carla Stovall investigated a county sheriff
department after receiving a complaint that the department did criminal
background checks on two organizers of a petition attempting to recall the
sheriff.  Read the story.

Prosecutor's Office Uses Database to Smear Prosecutor's Political Opponent
The Butler County Republican Party has asked the county commissioners to
investigate allegations that an employee in the prosecutor's office misused
a state database to obtain information about his boss's political
opponent.  Read the story.

Police Lieutenant Charged With Abusing Database to Influence Elections
In Maryland, a Charles County sheriff's lieutenant faces criminal charges
for misusing the sheriff's computer system on behalf of local Democrats
connected with elections.  He is charged by sheriff's officials with 102
violations of departmental rules relating to the abuse, according to court
documents filed in Charles County Circuit Court.  Read the story.

Cop Uses Database to Find Woman's Unlisted Phone Number -- Gives It to
Woman's Ex
A Brisbane, Australia, police officer admitted to giving a local
businessman the personal details of his ex-girlfriend.  The investigator
told the court how the woman, whose name has been suppressed, complained
earlier that an ex-boyfriend had called her unlisted home phone
number.  The senior police constable admitted to providing the woman's
personal details.  Despite twice denying in previous CJC interviews to
handing over the silent number, Constable Crawford changed his
evidence.  Read the story.

Cop Fired for Abusing Database, Chief Accused as Well
The town of Atherton, California, has ruled that a former police officer
should not get his job back after alleged misuse of the California Law
Enforcement Telecommunications System (CLETS).  He is also accused of
violating a restraining order and destroying personal property in a case
involving his ex-girlfriend, and reportedly using the database to find
information about her.  The CLETS system, administered by the California
Department of Justice, is a database containing information ranging from
driving records to criminal records.  Following the firing, the officer
accused Atherton's police chief of also misusing the CLETS system.
Read the story.

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