Remember Rob Ford?
Remember what they were saying about him?
Well that doesn't seem nearly as bad now that 'Don the Con' has hit the scene, eh!
The more journalists and other FOIA enthusiasts gain access to public records, the more we discover that a combination of access and power tends to result in abuse.
Even as this abuse goes unaddressed, law enforcement agencies are striving to add more personal information to their databases, extending far past the usual "name/last known location" to encompass a vast array of biometric data.
Privacy watchdogs have been fighting against these for good reason: very little is known about the contents of these databases or the controls put in place to protect the info from inappropriate access.
What is known is that these databases are misused by law enforcement officers routinely. What's also been discovered is that this routine misuse is rarely ever punished to the extent the law allows.
Warnings about possible jail time are meaningless when the usual punishment usually ranges from nothing at all to short suspensions.
What was uncovered from the incomplete set of records is the expected behavior. Give someone access to a wealth of other people's personal information and it will be used for personal reasons.
Law enforcement officers have misused the databases to stalk and harass exes, look up women they find attractive, and to search for something to discredit journalists and other critics.
Violations frequently arise from romantic pursuits or domestic entanglements, including when a Denver officer became acquainted with a hospital employee during a sex-assault investigation, then searched out her phone number and called her at home. A Mancos, Colorado, marshal asked co-workers to run license plate checks for every white pickup truck they saw because his girlfriend was seeing a man who drove a white pickup, an investigative report shows.This is just another item in a long list of law enforcement abuses that has gone unaddressed for decades now -- either internally or by the federal government. Trust is something that's earned.
In Florida, a Polk County sheriff's deputy investigating a battery complaint ran driver's license information of a woman he met and then messaged her unsolicited through Facebook.
Officers have sought information for purely personal purposes, including criminal records checks of co-workers at private businesses. A Phoenix officer ran searches on a neighbor during the course of a longstanding dispute. A North Olmsted, Ohio, officer pleaded guilty this year to searching for a female friend's landlord and showing up in the middle of the night to demand the return of money he said was owed her.
Trust shouldn't just be handed over, and that level should deteriorate as abuse is exposed, rather than remain unchanged.
But that's not what has happened over the years. Instead, law enforcement agencies benefit from a perpetual benefit of a doubt. The end result is obvious: agencies and their employees have no problem abusing trust because they've expended no effort in "earning" it.