Police Officers Facing Potential Felony Charges After Using Government Databases To Screen Potential Dates

from the we-need-all-this-info-for-several-reasons:-here's-one-of-them dept

Hey, look! It’s more abuse of privileges by people in power. (via PoliceMisconduct.net)

Court documents show that Fairfield Police Officers Stephen Ruiz and Jacob Glashoff used company time and equipment to search for women on internet dating sites.

Just a bad idea, whether you’re a government employee or engaged in the private sector rat race. In almost every case, using work computers (while on the clock) to surf dating sites will be a violation of company/agency policy. But there’s more.

Court documents allege the officers then used a police-issued computer to look up the women they found appealing in a confidential law enforcement database that connects to the DMV and state and federal records.

This isn’t an isolated incident. Government employees and law enforcement officers have a long history of abusing the public’s trust.

There’s not a ton of commentary to add here. The basic issue is this: many, many people have access to personal information that the government demands you provide in exchange for essential items like driver’s licenses, vehicle/home titles, etc. Connected to these databases is one used to house information on every person booked by police (notably, not every person convicted or even every person charged).

Some people place a lot of trust in those who have access to this information. This trust is often misplaced. Many others place no trust in those who have this access and yet, there is very little they can do without placing their personal information in the hands of people they actively distrust.

Having verifiable records on hand is a safeguard against fraud and other criminal activity… by the public. The internal safeguards meant to protect citizens from untoward actions by public servants are ultimately useless because the government far too frequently refuses to take serious actions against those who abuse the public’s trust. People are given paid suspensions or are allowed to transfer out of the agency rather than face more severe consequences. These two officers face the possibility of criminal charges (after being reported by another officer — kudos to him or her) but in the meantime, both are still on duty and fully paid. Innocent until proven guilty, sure, but it would seem the police department should have caught this before it became a problem severe enough that felony charges are even being discussed. Externally, police are issuing tickets for expired vehicle tags and other minor lapses. Internally, no one can apparently be bothered to monitor access of sensitive info.

Defenders of surveillance and the wholesale collection of personal information by government entities often claim the Googles and Twitters of the world are just as disinterested in your privacy as any government agency. But you can opt out of Google, Twitter, et al. You can choose to not participate. The government, for the most part, isn’t optional. There’s no TOS you can read before deciding to do business elsewhere. Your information is gathered, stored and rifled through by any number of people, some of whom are doing it just because their positions give them access.

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Comments on “Police Officers Facing Potential Felony Charges After Using Government Databases To Screen Potential Dates”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The scary thing about this is that this could also potentially be used by Federal prosecutors as an attempt to expand the reach of the CFAA. Applicable state felony charges for abuusing police power I would agree with, but the Fairfield Police Department should tell the US Attorney to GO TO HELL, if he tries to get cooperation for any federal CFAA charges.

It seems that every case like this is used by the Feds as a chance to expand the scope of the CFAA, which I think might happen here, and even more so if, by some chance, they beat the rap on state criminal charges.

You watch, the Feds will use this as a way to warp the CFAA and expand its reach.

Anonymous Coward says:

If they do face felony charges then its a screwed up system they have. administrative leave with pay when they break the law any other time but felony charges when they waste company time.

I am all for cops being sent to jail for breaking this particular law. But I want cops sent to jail when they break any law not just cherry picked ones.

LduN (profile) says:

tables turned?

If I (It at a multination corp) were to use my access to systems and say, look up what other people are getting paid, I know that I would be fired before I could even blink. However, a cop goes and finds out highly confidential data (at one point didn’t they want to intergrate health records into the PD systems?) about some “random” women and I bet all he’ll get is paid leave (sounds like a nice vacation for him and his new GF who he knows has 10 parking/traffic violations in the past 15 years). Must be nice

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

But they are the “good guys” surely even if they peek they will not use the info for evil, right?

Now, back to the real world.
I completely agree.
A public official abusing their access is FAR worse than a criminal hacking in and gaining that same access.

Abusing the power granted by citizens deserves severe punishment.

Not too long ago in our past a Sheriff abusing his power would have been tried by a jury of his peers then hung at the public square for all to see.

Anonymous Coward says:

I have no problem with them using this as long as we can use it or something like it to check their history as a cop when they stop us (in the form of a phone app) and have the option to refuse to deal with them as a cop because of negative entries.

Because that’ll happen, right? They’d be ok with us using the same tools on them, right?

Somehow I think not.

Anonymous Coward says:


Felony charges for checking out the hot chicks (legitimately to find out if they are possibly associating with a known criminal, but more likely for the gossip value)

…but paid leave for a few months for shooting an unarmed suspect?

I don’t think the cops should be cruising by using the police databases, but let’s get some balance.

Maybe once the fact hits home on the other side of the blue line, the law enforcement community will realize the crazy cry has gone too far with “pass another law against it! Throw the book at them!” Time for more balance in the laws.

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