MADISON, Wis. — The Associated Press has counted more than 20 cases of database misuse that resulted in discipline between 2013 and 2015 in records provided by the Wisconsin Department of Justice.
The names of the employees suspected of misuse are redacted, but the department produced email correspondence between individual police agencies and state officials regarding concerns about improper database access.
The cases include a University of Wisconsin-Madison police captain who “ran the registration plate of a woman that he thought might be interested in him” and left a card on her car, according to an email sent by a department official to the state. The officer was suspended, the email said.
A Grand Chute employee was accused of querying about his son on multiple occasions and later resigned and accepted a job with another agency, the records show.
Four dispatchers in Manitowoc County were accused of running checks on a supervisor after hearing rumors about her, and “at least one shared the information” with a party outside of law enforcement, according to one email. The dispatchers were suspended, and a fifth one was subsequently punished as well, according to the Manitowoc County Joint Dispatch Center.
In Madison, according to one email produced to AP, a detective was accused of running criminal records checks related to a felony offender/probationer who worked intermittently at the officer’s private business and “either directly or indirectly advised” the person of a warrant. The email says the officer was given counseling advising him of the violation.
In some of the other cases disclosed by the state, the nature of the misuse was not made clear, nor was the discipline. Since the records provided to AP were in the form of emails, rather than a straightforward registry of misuse cases, it was difficult to determine precisely how many instances involved sustained abuse.
The violations generally concern the state’s Transaction Information for the Management of Enforcement system, also known as Time. That system, available to law enforcement agencies, holds records including criminal histories, driver’s license and vehicle registration information and protection order and injunction files. The system is managed by the state’s Crime Information Bureau.
More broadly, the AP’s review found that officers across the country have misused law enforcement databases hundreds of times in the past few years to look up information on ex-romantic partners, relatives, celebrities journalists and others.