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.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    tomczerniawski, Aug 25th, 2014 @ 11:38am

    "Police officers facing potential felony charges."

    HAHAHAHAHA, good one.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Aug 25th, 2014 @ 6:42pm

      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.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 25th, 2014 @ 11:41am

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Aug 25th, 2014 @ 11:46am

      Re:

      Indeed. Being an officer of the peace is not a magical Shield of Invulnerability (LEGAL). It is a privilege with responsibilities attached.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    LduN (profile), Aug 25th, 2014 @ 11:43am

    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

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 25th, 2014 @ 11:53am

    Wonder if he was using ICREACH? Head over to The Intercept for a big scoop on what is essentially the IC's own internal Google

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Aug 25th, 2014 @ 11:54am

    Perhaps it is time to think that giving someone power somehow imbues them with a superpower to not peek.
    That people with this sort of access SHOULD face stricter penalties than a member of the public who gained access.
    It is a betrayal of their position and the trust they were given.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Aug 25th, 2014 @ 1:06pm

      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.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 25th, 2014 @ 12:06pm

    why are they 'potential felony charges'? if it were anyone else, the CFAA would be used, along with whatever else the prosecutors could think up

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Aug 25th, 2014 @ 4:24pm

      Re:

      I suspect it depends on how the rules granting them access are written. If the law grants them access in general, but only permits them to use the information for legitimate law enforcement purposes afterwards, that's not a CFAA violation.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 25th, 2014 @ 12:23pm

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 25th, 2014 @ 1:25pm

    It's okay

    They were no dinosaur shootings involved. so it's alright.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 25th, 2014 @ 1:32pm

    It's a good thing that these databases aren't ever misused by law enforcement...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    DannyB (profile), Aug 25th, 2014 @ 2:12pm

    I don't see what the problem is here

    Without these databases, how are police officers supposed to make sure that their potential date definitely has a criminal record?

    Are you suggesting that they should open themselves up to the risk of getting a date with a clean criminal history?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 25th, 2014 @ 3:39pm

    Taxpayer funded Abuse , who'd of thunk it .


    " But you can opt out of Google, Twitter "

    One should have to opt in not opt out.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    toyotabedzrock (profile), Aug 25th, 2014 @ 6:00pm

    I had a gay cop do this to me. He looked at my DMV info and knew that I forgot to pay the insurance surcharge which in NJ is just a recurring penalty you get imposed till your points go down.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 25th, 2014 @ 6:03pm

    May you live in interesting times...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2014 @ 7:12am

    Seriously?

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2014 @ 7:19am

    Things have changed since the day my father was a cop. At the the time my mother and father got married, in the 1960s, my father did a criminal record check on my mother before deciding he wanted to marry her, and nothing happened to him.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2014 @ 11:25am

    This is just like that skit from Amazon Women on the Moon. The only difference is that this is funny.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Deserttrek, Aug 26th, 2014 @ 11:38am

    all dirty cops, prosecutors and politicians should get double the time of any ordinary citizen. they write and enforce so they should be clean beyond all reason

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
Advertisement
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Chat
Techdirt Reading List
Advertisement
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Support Techdirt - Get Great Stuff!

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.