Detroit Police Commander Emails Female Officers' Measurements To Entire Police Force

from the just-Detroit-being-Detroit,-I-suppose dept

An unfortunate and cautionary tale of inappropriate data “leakage” has emerged from Detroit (itself an unfortunate and cautionary tale). The lessons here are many, but one of the first is ALWAYS CHECK EVERY PAGE OF YOUR ATTACHMENT BEFORE FORWARDING TO THE ENTIRE MAILING LIST.

Police sources said about three weeks ago, Commander Dwayne Love was asked to notify the officers that their bullet proof vests were ready to be picked up. So he forwarded an email to the commanders, who then forwarded it to the supervisors, who then forwarded it to the officers.

White claimed Love didn’t know the weight, height and bra cup sizes of the women were included on the attached Excel spreadsheet until it was too late.

The personal information was on the third page of the spreadsheet, something Love failed to notice before he forwarded the information. Apparently, everyone else in the chain of command failed to notice it as well. Or ignored it. Long story short, nearly every officer in the Detroit police department had access to the measurements of nearly every female officer on the force.

As is to be expected, certain officers decided to misuse this information.

[S]everal female officers, who say they have faced ridicule from fellow officers, with the help of their union are filing two grievances against the department and one complaint with EOC. Even if Love made an innocent mistake, the damage they feel has already been done.

There’s one lesson: no matter what standard certain people are supposed to hold themselves to, there’s always several who will willingly let that standard slip.

But there’s a larger lesson here as well. The anonymous tipster who sent this in included the following statement with the submission.

Nice article to link to when you need an example of just how “professional” officers can be when they have access to sensitive/personal information.

First off, members of the police department weren’t even professional enough to handle their own data without abusing the details that fell into their hands.

Now, extrapolate.

Thousands of police departments across the nation have access to the personal details of millions of citizens, including everything coughed up in order to get a driver’s license. Add to that the information gathered by thousands of CCTV cameras, license plate scanners, red light cams, etc. and you’ve got a ton of data, most of it unrelated to any criminal activity, just laying around waiting for a “bad apple” to root through it for his or her own nefarious ends.

Extrapolate further.

Our nation’s intelligence agencies have also gathered tons of data on Americans, much of it under dubious readings and interpretations of standing laws and elastically-defined words like “relevant.” When we complain, the defenders explain that it is all handled very carefully and the agencies themselves take extraordinary safeguards against abuse of the gathered data.

But let’s all be honest with each other. Every single one of these agencies hires from the human race, and the human race is stocked all too well with people prone to abusing the power and information under their control.

Rather than craft strict rules on the care and disposal of “non-relevant” information, these agencies tends towards amassing the data carelessly and holding it indefinitely. There are exceptions, of course, but the general feeling is grab it and hold it. Just in case.

So, you see the problem. Data is collected and left in the hands of humans. But we’re expected to believe abuse is such a rarity that considering stricter safeguards or collection limitations is laughable.

When we see that a single police department can’t even handled a botched internal email without finding itself on the receiving end of harassment claims, it doesn’t give us much hope for larger data collections held by larger agencies, especially those with previous abuses on their rap sheets.

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Comments on “Detroit Police Commander Emails Female Officers' Measurements To Entire Police Force”

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Ninja (profile) says:

[S]everal female officers, who say they have faced ridicule from fellow officers

Aside from the obvious and very important points the article raised I’d like to point to this one. It’s one petty reason to ridicule anyone and yet there are POLICE OFFICERS – who are supposed to be responsible and uphold the Constitution and the law – using it in that way like some clueless, immature kids bullying other kids. Adults my ass. Fire the idiots, they are not fit to carry such great responsibilities.

Anon says:

Not New

Many years ago in Vancouver(?) pro-choice protesters defending an abortion clinic got abusive mailings from an anonymous source, to their home addresses. Because the Motor Vehicle system logged all access, the issue was narrowed down to a police officer who was pro choice. In his off time he noted the license plates of demonstrators, and then looked up those plaets at work. This was obvious thanks to who he looked up and when, in relation to the mailings.

Police were then warned that all access is logged and use for anything other than police business is a discipline violation.

This is the key – is the data properly controlled and access logged? Is access information available to defence lawyers and internal affairs?

But yes, if data is not really necessay why is it collected? Like NYPD’s stop-and-frisk, detaining 90% to catch the 10% (if that) is a violation of constitutional rights.

Anonymous Coward says:

There's a secondary problem here

We now know they have all this data.

So does everyone else…where “everyone else” includes people who aren’t even putatively law-abiding. It includes kidnappers and blackmailers, extortionists and drug dealers, thieves and pedophiles, rapists and telemarketers — every variety of scum that the planet has to offer.

They know these data collections exist, therefore some of them want them, therefore some of them WILL GET THEM. It’s inevitable. Whether it’s via a security hole or a discarded system in a dumpster or by the old tried-and-true ways (bribery chief among them), they WILL GET THEM. It’s only a matter of what, when and where. Not “if”.

And when this happens, and when outraged citizens ask WTF they were doing collecting and storing all this in the first place, they will say (as they always say): “Nobody could have foreseen…” and of course “Because terrorism”.

art guerrilla (profile) says:

yes, very excellent point...

…about how not is it ‘only too human’ to abuse such secretive powers when there is essentially ZERO accountability, oversight, or repercussions, but how it comes down to ‘faith-based’ government, and ‘trusting’ these paragons of virtue…

OUR WHOLE SYSTEM OF GOVERNANCE is predicated on NOT trusting fallible individuals, but instituting a PUBLIC system which oversees their actions TRANSPARENTLY…

we have lost our way in following those principles…

art guerrilla
aka ann archy

John85851 (profile) says:

How do you define "a rarity"?

How do you define “a rarity”?

Terrorism is a rarity, yet hundreds or thousands of people are killed when it happens. And of course, the government is doing whatever it can in the name of preventing this “rarity”.

Yet when we talk about bad apples in the police force or other government agencies, these are “rarities” also, yet the agencies don’t do much to prevent these people from doing something bad.

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