Saturday, August 08, 2009

Ethics matter.

When someone has access to sensitive or confidential information, and they access it outside the proper bounds of their job, they should probably be fired.

It doesn't matter whether the person they were investigating was me or President Obama or your grandmother.


kahr40 said...

Yes and there are some levels of stupid that deserve the same treatment. You get both in one here.

Anonymous said...

What the hell?

On the flip side, that's some dumb ass reporting.
"It's unclear what information might have been sought during the attempted record check."
Do they not understand what a criminal background check is?

Tam said...

I want to know what some street cop thinks he's going to scare up running Barry O. through the NCIC like he's the first guy to think of it or something...

Anonymous said...


Ethics matter and they matter ESPECIALLY for government employees.

I can just the the lights flashing at the secret service monitoring stations when he ran that check.

1hr later: Err. Officer Friendly? there's 5 REALLY large well dressed people who want to talk to you. And 2 nasty looking lawyers.

Eric said...

There's no probably about it. He should be fired. Just because he is a public figure does not make it OK.

Diogenes said...

Same thing happened here in Atlanta last week. Dumb breaking out all over...

Steve Skubinna said...

Yes, it does matter. Obama has the Secret Service watching for exactly this sort of thing, and they and the entire DoJ will land on this dumb schmuck like a ton of bricks.

You, on the other hand, are just some pissant loser (no offense) at the mercey of every jack in office with a score to settle. The only thing you have going for you is you have not yet popped up on the radar, as Joe the Plumber was stupid enough to do. In that case you'd get every level of government between county dogcatcher to the White House on your case, plus the entire MSM baying for your blood.

This cop just picked the wrong target, is all. This is Mister Obama's America, where we have precisely two kinds of inhabitants: The Won and his toadies, and everyone else (call us serfs).

Michael said...

On a related note, does the same level of outrage apply to On Star when they use their service as an unauthorized bug inside a well known persons vehicle? What about Newt's cell phone conversation that was "accidentally" caught and turned over to the media?

No defense to the stupid, but we aren't as "secure in our homes" as we would like to think.

Tam said...

Anybody that pays a monthly fee for the privilege of having their car bugged is a lot more trusting than I am.

Anybody saying things over the phone that they wouldn't say to a cop's face isn't being very prudent.

But when you catch them with their hands in the cookie jar, you need to put up a fuss all the same. Otherwise you're just acquiescing.

Brad K. said...

I am afraid to a bit of confusion. Why is what the cop did so very wrong? Was it wrong to pull a criminal background check because it was B. Hussein Obama, or because a cop shouldn't pull a criminal background check whenever - such as when a citizen applies to purchase a firearm, or a cop checks the name behind a random license plate?

Admittedly, in the middle of the night, not in the vicinity of B. Hussein Obama, this looks like a bored intrusion into a celebrity's life.

Yet that same info is regularly pulled up on non-President citizens on a regular basis, for no better reason.

Or is it that this is the worst breach of criminal records since those FBI files compiled against Republican party election opponents, back when Bill Clinton was President and Hillary's finger prints were on the returned files?

Tam said...

"Yet that same info is regularly pulled up on non-President citizens on a regular basis, for no better reason."

...and that is every bit as much of an ethical violation.

Firehand said...

There are very specific rules on that systems this clown accessed. A law enforcement officer, as of the last time I checked before I retired, could only run you for a criminal background check for one of two reasons:
Subsequent to an arrest, and a traffic stop does NOT count, or
As part of an ongoing criminal investigation.
Not "Because I have a badge and I can", not "I want to check on this guy." We had a hell of a time convincing a lot of LE people that they couldn't use it however they chose on whoever they chose; far too many have the attitude "I have a badge, and if I say I need it, that's all it takes."

It's against law and system regulations both, and both are violated regularly. It's only when something like this happens(usually), or when someone finds out their records were improperly/illegally accessed and raises hell, that something gets done about it. Unfortunately.

Firehand said...

..."THE systems...", that should be.

I really can spell and use decent grammar, honest.

Anonymous said...

Remember, having a cellphone at your hip can be the same as having an open microphone to law enforcement.
I seem to remember the Feds using mobile phones to listen in on mafia types a few years ago. All it required was a wiretapping warrant and the cooperation of the carrier.

Brad K. said...


So your point is that the reality is that this is like Jersey laws - the cop was in the wrong only because he got caught. And that the President isn't a citizen, and enjoys a different defense against abuse than ordinary citizens.

Anonymous 9:24, As I recall, before cell phones were made to be able to clandestinely monitor video and audio when turned off, the FBI got the cell provider, in at least one case, to reprogram the target cell phone by downloading new software - to turn off the lights and appear powered down, without actually disconnecting from the carrier or even allowing the user to turn off the cell phone.

mts1 said...

I'll get a phone number for someone from, and at the bottom there is an ad from US Search saying I can buy a background report, criminal report, or court record for the person, too. I looked up a couple of people for a school reunion, and their profession and place of work popped up, too. Oh, the person, and relatives, all had their age listed. Try it and see what I mean.

And as far as a criminal background check, isn't that a matter of public record, anyway? Juvenile records are sealed once one becomes an adult, but adult records?

Buffboy said...

Actually anon 9:24, anybody with a computer and wireless connection can do the same thing to your cell phone if they have access to it for a couple minutes.

Firehand the rules haven't changed, if anything they gotten more strict in the last few years.

What this cop did was beyond stupid.

Tam said...

"So your point is that the reality is that this is like Jersey laws - the cop was in the wrong only because he got caught."

No, he very specifically said that the cop was in the wrong whether he got caught or not.

Firehand said...

Brad, pay attention to the words:
The Cop Was In The Wrong. He Broke The Law And Regulations. Period.

And it's an ongoing problem with a lot of LE people who think the badge means they don't have to obey some laws.

How you got 'he was only wrong because he got caught' and ' the President isn't a citizen' I have no damned idea.

Brad K. said...


What I meant about the President being treated differently under the law - if this cop had pulled my name or yours, we would likely never know. And the cop(s) would never be caught, let alone chastised or punished.

It is the enforcement and interpretation in court that defines the law, not the written code. Obviously, if no one enforces a law, a violation never gets to court.

For instance, safe following distance while driving. Where posted speed is 45 mph or higher, that is 200 feet. When was the last time that particular law was cited, unless there was an actual vehicle collision? No one cares about it - it doesn't get enforced. Same with the criminal check. There are strictly written federal laws prohibiting using the background check to obtain a firearm for anything else - yet the information routinely is entered into court records when prosecuting a crime. Oh, well, I guess, just another "loophole" - or LEO scofflaw.

Adultery is still against the law in most states. No one enforces it. Similar to the background checks. Unless you kick over a government agency and get noticed - it might violate law or not. "Professional courtesy" is the phrase I often hear, when LE steps outside legal procedures, not "That violates the law."

What I mean is, I don't dispute what the regulations require. What I feel disenfranchised about is how unevenly the regulation is enforced.

Firehand said...

Part of the problem is that a lot of departments, unless a case is rather loudly 'brought to their attention', don't WANT to know about it; they know damn well it's illegal for their cops to run somebody Triple-I on a traffic stop and such, but they also know that occasionally it pays off, so they make excuses. They also suffer from brass who don't like to be told "You can't do that".

Part of the problem is also public ignorance. Most people don't know that Officer Not-So-Friendly isn't supposed to run you some ways on a traffic stop, so they don't know to file a complaint or call a lawyer. And a lot of lawyers either don't catch this, or for some reason don't use it in court like they could.

I wish they would; a bunch of people being prosecuted for improper use of these systems might help a bit.

Rick R. said...

Any public (or public service) employee INAPPROPRIATELY using his or her access to special fiels -- whether credit reports, passport files, or police databases, needs to be fired immediately and blacklisted from any such access in the future.

It's unacceptable -- and I don;t care WHO the target is. President Obama, that cute blonde down teh street, or your ex-brother-in-law -- it's all the same, ethically.

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