From the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/12/national/12NET.html?ex=1058587200&en=f58b93fbf29e6015&ei=5062&partner=GOOGLE):
A Web Site Causes Unease in Police
By ADAM LIPTAK
William Sheehan does not like the police. He expresses his views about what he calls police corruption in Washington State on his Web site, where he also posts lists of police officers' addresses, home phone numbers and Social Security numbers.
State officials say those postings expose officers and their families to danger and invite identity theft. But neither litigation nor legislation has stopped Mr. Sheehan, who promises to expand his site to include every police and corrections officer in the state by the end of the year.
Mr. Sheehan says he obtains the information lawfully, from voter registration, property, motor vehicle and other official records. But his provocative use of personal data raises questions about how the law should address the dissemination of accurate, publicly available information that is selected and made accessible in a way that may facilitate the invasion of privacy, computer crime, even violence.
Larry Erickson, executive director of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, says the organization's members are disturbed by Mr. Sheehan's site.
"Police officers go out at night," Mr. Erickson said, "they make people mad, and they leave their families behind."
The law generally draws no distinction between information that is nominally public but hard to obtain and information that can be fetched with an Internet search engine and a few keystrokes. The dispute over Mr. Sheehan's site is similar to a debate that has been heatedly taken up around the nation, about whether court records that are public in paper form should be freely available on the Internet.
In 1989, in a case not involving computer technology, the Supreme Court did allow the government to refuse journalists' Freedom of Information Act request for paper copies of information it had compiled from arrest and conviction records available in scattered public files. The court cited the "practical obscurity" of the original records.
But once accurate information is in private hands like Mr. Sheehan's, the courts have been extremely reluctant to interfere with its dissemination.
Mr. Sheehan, a 41-year-old computer engineer in Mill Creek, Wash., near Seattle, says his postings hold the police accountable, by facilitating picketing, the serving of legal papers and research into officers' criminal histories. His site collects news articles and court papers about what he describes as inadequate and insincere police investigations, and about police officers who have themselves run afoul of the law.
His low opinion of the police has its roots, Mr. Sheehan says, in a 1998 dispute with the Police Department of Kirkland, Wash., over whether he lied in providing an alibi for a friend charged with domestic violence. Mr. Sheehan was found guilty of making a false statement and harassing a police officer and was sentenced to six months in jail, but served no time: the convictions were overturned.
He started his Web site in the spring of 2001. There are other sites focused on accusations of police abuse, he said, "but they stop short of listing addresses."
Yet if his site goes farther than others, Mr. Sheehan says, still it is not too far. "There is not a single incident," he said, "where a police officer has been harassed as a result of police-officer information being on the Internet."
Last year, in response to a complaint by the Kirkland police about Mr. Sheehan's site, the Washington Legislature enacted a law prohibiting the dissemination of the home addresses, phone numbers, birth dates and Social Security numbers of law enforcement, corrections and court personnel if it was meant "to harm or intimidate."
As a result, Mr. Sheehan, who had taken delight in bringing his project to the attention of local police departments, removed those pieces of information from his site. But he put them back in May, when a federal judge, deciding on a challenge brought by Mr. Sheehan himself, struck down the law as unconstitutional.
The ruling, by John C. Coughenour, chief judge of the Federal District Court in Seattle, said Mr. Sheehan's site was "analytically indistinguishable from a newspaper."
"There is cause for concern," Judge Coughenour wrote, "when the Legislature enacts a statute proscribing a type of political speech in a concerted effort to silence particular speakers."
The state government, he continued, "boldly asserts the broad right to outlaw any speech — whether it be anti-Semitic, anti-choice, radical religious, or critical of police — so long as a jury of one's peers concludes that the speaker subjectively intends to intimidate others with that speech."
Bruce E. H. Johnson, a Seattle lawyer specializing in First Amendment issues, said Judge Coughenour was correct in striking down the statute because it treated identical publicly available information differently depending on the authorities' perception of the intent of the person who disseminated it.
"It forces local prosecutors to become thought police," Mr. Johnson said.
Elena Garella, Mr. Sheehan's lawyer, said there was one principle at the heart of the case.
"Once the cat is out of the bag," she said, "the government has no business censoring information or punishing people who disseminate it."
Fred Olson, a spokesman for the state attorney general, Christine O. Gregoire, said the state would not appeal Judge Coughenour's decision.
"Our attorneys reviewed the decision and the case law," Mr. Olson said, "and they just felt there was very, very little likelihood that we would prevail on appeal. Our resources are much better used to find a legislative solution."
But Bill Finkbeiner, a state senator who was the main sponsor of the law that was struck down, said the judge's opinion left little room for a legislative repair. He said he was frustrated.
"This isn't just bad for police officers and corrections employees," Mr. Finkbeiner said. "It really doesn't bode well for anybody. Access to personal information changes when that information is put in electronic form."
Mr. Sheehan says one sort of data he has posted has given him pause.
"I'll be honest and say I do have a quandary over the Social Security numbers," he said. "I'm going to publish them because that's how I got the rest of my information, and I want to let people verify my data. But our state government shouldn't be releasing that data."
Lt. Rex Caldwell, a spokesman for the Police Department in Kirkland, said his colleagues there were resigned to Mr. Sheehan's site, and added that much of the information posted on it was out of date.
When the matter first came up, "people were extremely unhappy about it," Lieutenant Caldwell said. "Now it's more of an annoyance than anything else. The official line from the chief is that we're still concerned. At the same time, everyone's greatest fear, of people using this to track them down, has not materialized."
Nor is there any indication that the site has led to identity theft, he said.
Brightening, Lieutenant Caldwell said some officers even welcomed the posting of their home addresses, if that encouraged Mr. Sheehan to visit.
"If he wants to drop by the house," Lieutenant Caldwell said, "the police officers would be more than happy to welcome him. We're all armed and trained."
If you enjoyed reading about "LEO's, what's your take on this?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
July 13, 2003, 12:28 AM
As to the site itself, it's his right.
I strongly object to his facilitating identity theft by giving away the SS #s. I strongly object to his placing the families of LEOs at risk by publishing the home addresses.
July 13, 2003, 12:35 AM
I'm not an LEO, but that is borderline stupid. No way should LEO's families be made vunerable like that. Most policeman are giving as big a service as our military. They do a job that is inherently dangerous, for very little pay, to attempt to keep the community safe. They are not responsible for the safety of individual citizen, as that responsibility rests with each individual, but they still risk there lives every day as good battling evil. It is wrong to put them further at risk. The guy should have his ??? kicked.
July 13, 2003, 12:57 AM
Could lead to more home attacks on officers and or their families.
July 13, 2003, 12:58 AM
Mr. Sheehan should be made aware he will be criminally prosecuted as a co-defendant should any crimes be carried out against anyone or any family member listed on his web-site.
My personal belief is that the burden of responsibility should be on him to prove that criminals didn't use his web-site to further their criminal actions, but that gets kind of sticky.
I would, however, initiate a class-action lawsuit against Mr. Sheehan, listing each and every hostile phone call, threatening letter and act of vandalism made since his web-site premiered, along with (Heaven forbid) any more serious criminal offenses.
July 13, 2003, 01:12 AM
that man may have a right to his website but I have a right to say that he is outta line and is doing something that 99% of those LEOS dont deserve because as HBK said they do a risky service for the community and most are good folks
July 13, 2003, 01:32 AM
Perhaps Mr. Sheehan could drop by my neighborhood. I would personally
escort him to the graves of three of my friends who were killed in the
line of duty. Then I would like to introduce him to the widow and 2 small
children of the Michigan State Trooper from my local post who was killed
last week trying to serve a warrant on a pedophile. Guys like Sheehan
are a couple sandwiches short of a picnic and I hope the local leo's continue to give him some perfectly legal grief that costs him attorney money.
grampster, back from 3 weeks vacation and grumpy.
July 13, 2003, 01:36 AM
But I think it's his right, I don't like special classes of citizens though, and if I don't get special laws or consideration to protect me police, politicians etc. shouldn't either.
July 13, 2003, 01:40 AM
None of these complaints are legit as all of this information is publicly available. If you want to argue that the website is inciting hatred, that's another matter.
July 13, 2003, 01:41 AM
I think his rights stop at the line over which he crosses when he puts others in danger. I don't think he should be able to do that to civilians either.
July 13, 2003, 01:51 AM
He posted on his website information that was legally obtained from public sources. If the officers have a gripe, go see the sources he used.
July 13, 2003, 02:20 AM
I would not wish that on anyone. Got in the public eye once from city council meetings regarding residential care facility in our neighborhood. Few weeks of odd drive by gawkers and a few threatening phone calls. A couple of really twisted letters to the newspapers. There are more civil ways to keep the police scrutinized than putting their families at risk.
July 13, 2003, 03:36 AM
I bet this guy gets more parking and traffic tickets than the rest of his neighborhood combined.
July 13, 2003, 05:55 AM
Theres one in every crowd...
July 13, 2003, 09:59 AM
It's his website. He can put anything he wants on it. If he uses his website to incite violence towards any group of people, he should be held accountable civilly. Social security numbers should be way out of bounds though. On that subject, I heard that the Social Security Administration was asking for legislation that would forbid the use of the SSN for anything other then what it was originally intended. I thought it was always against the law to use an SSN for any purpose other then social security, but that the law was just widely ignored.
It's been my experience that if someone wants to find you, they can find you. Been told plenty of times "I know where you live" or "Doesn't your wife work at the IGA?" In 1990 I had a State Police TRT Team waiting in my house for two people who were going to do a home invasion and kill my family and then go to the home of an officer from another agency who was assigned to the drug task force and repeat the crime there. Both were arrested before they ever got to my house and were sentenced to 9 years each on a conspiracy charge. I still have a listed phone number. Perhaps if I lived and worked in a large metropolitan area I would worry more. But here none of us are really hard to find.
But in the sense of fairplay perhaps someone should put up a website giving the names, addresses and phone numbers of those people who have threatened police officers.
July 13, 2003, 10:10 AM
Has anyone visited the website? Link: http://justicefiles.org
They just had this guy interviewed on Sunday Today show, in which they publicized his website...probably accounts for the slow page loading times.
I clicked on a few cities, they have some names and salary figures for various police, but the fields for address, phone #, etc., are blank on the towns I visited.
Click on "east side narcotics task force". The guy makes an editorial comment against asset forfeiture/seizure, with a couple of graphs (Bellevue, I think) plotting growth in seizure acivity. We've discussed this topic on both tfl and thr, with the prevailing leo opinion being that a)asset forfeiture/seizure is not practiced in their dept. (so it doesn't exist); or b) the ends justify the means...druggie dirtbags deserve everything they get, regardless of due process. I think he's got a point that some jurisdictions have turned this into a goldmine. We're on thin ice when lea's profit from arrests seizures. One hopes this exposure will cause review of this policy? (yeah, right) Leo's feel free to weigh in on asset seizure/forfeiture.
Various pd's have put up so-called "John" websites, with pictures of arrestees for soliciting prostitution...with apparently little concern for defendants privacy/welfare? Is this not a two way street? Example link: http://www.ci.stpaul.mn.us/depts/police/prostitution_photos_current.html
At the present time, .gov maintains extensive files with citizens' personal information. Shared among govt agencies. If this data is misused (and it has been), should I charge .gov as a co-defendant? Oh, they have immunity, if forgot.
I could not find Lon Horiuchi's address or phone number on this website.
July 13, 2003, 01:16 PM
All this guy is doing is making it easier to do something that anyone with some time and determination (or money to pay someone) could find out anyway. Do I like it? No. But the kind of criminal who does web searches or knows enough to pay someone to do web searches for them would probably go to the effort anyway. Let's face it, all you have to do is follow someone home.
And it's still common knowledge that hurting a cop or a cop's family member is a very bad move.
July 13, 2003, 01:54 PM
I wish he would turn his search talents and web page over to publiahing the vital statistics of the CEO's of the companies that flood the internet with all that SPAM! I would be VERY interested in calling a few of these creeps just to inform that we know where to find them:cuss:
July 13, 2003, 03:25 PM
The info is already available. What's the big deal? Has been going on around here since '88.
You can get names, addresses, DoBs, SSNs all from the county court system. Why are the po-po yelling now? *Yawn*
July 13, 2003, 03:56 PM
El Tejon: Bravo!
Now, why doesn't he make up a database like this, but for les federales?
July 13, 2003, 05:52 PM
I believe the anti-abortion crowd recently got in trouble for doing this exact same thing to doctors (a couple of whom were indeed shot to death outside their homes.) How is providing home addresses for no other reason than harrassment a "right"? All you who think it's a "right", post your home addresses, SSNs and phone numbers here.
July 13, 2003, 05:59 PM
Here ya go:
Phone number - 972-3-5080974
Israeli National ID no: 30733337 7
Apart from these, the difference between me and those cops is that their info is already publicly available AFAIK.
July 13, 2003, 06:07 PM
Your address, balrog?
July 13, 2003, 06:09 PM
Mivtsa Sinai 8, entry 3, apt 8, Bat-Yam, Israel.
July 13, 2003, 06:10 PM
CTRL+V hates me.:banghead:
July 13, 2003, 09:58 PM
You want to provide a comprehensive list of public records, where by virtue of the volumn of information folks are quasi anonymous? Fine.
You want to target LEOs and their families? Not fine.
Same with other groups who attract less than savory individuals who seek to blur the private and public lines for personal or political means.
July 14, 2003, 12:00 AM
SSAN info is protected by the Privacy Act of 1974. See here:
July 14, 2003, 01:14 AM
I say we all send MicroBalrog Christmas cards this year :p
July 14, 2003, 08:49 AM
In the interest of accountability, here's a thought. With the advent of portable computers, pda's, etc., whenever someone is pulled over, and the cop is busy accessing all kinds of personal information on the suspect with his on-board computer; if the citizen could at the same time, easily access a web-site with information about the arresting agency and officer. And have the ability to post information as to the specifics of the interaction with the officer; perhaps posting feedback as is done for products on amazon.com?
Rogue cops/agencies would soon be identified by their feedback, perhaps those warranting a "hall of shame" designation would be identified and dealt with. A democratic alternative to the current "blue wall of silence"? Also, those professional officers would rise to the top, by virtue of their feedback.
Surely any "reputable" officer must be in favor of increase accountability? Perhaps in this idea, is a kernel of merit. Any thoughts?
July 15, 2003, 02:35 AM
A traffic stop is hardly the place to put things on hold things while a disgruntled citizen does a bit of research.
After the fact? Why not. Maybe frivolous lawsuits would go down?
July 15, 2003, 08:03 AM
Making Police Nervous: A View From The Other Side of the Blue Line
By an Anonymous State Trooper
This message was sent in by a State Trooper who chose (for valid reasons to remain anonymous). It was written as a response to the Associated Press article, “WA: Web Site Making Police Nervous.” This trooper takes issue with this article, as well as the attitudes and opinions of The Sierra Times itself, and some of its readers. Very enlightening. - Sierra Times
In this day and age of identity theft and the drastic and traumatic effect that it can have on a person once their credit is ruined by a thief, openly providing this information, to include social security numbers, about anyone on a public forum such as the Internet is almost a certain guarantee that damage will be done.
Because of the nature of a policeman's job, by putting phone numbers and addresses of these officials on the internet along with other personal information is another guarantee that not only these officers, but their families, will be harassed at all hours of the day and night and most probably even endangered. Not everyone who will be openly handed this information has honorable intentions and this lesser of the group includes the most unscrupulous and most criminal of society. I will accept any attack on me personally by the dregs of society as a condition of my employment. I have. But when it becomes an attack on my family and endangers those that I love, then I will fight like no other person you have ever seen. I will NOT take it sitting down. And a lot of police officers will do the exact same thing. The saying goes, "Hell hath no fury like that of a woman scorned." Whoever wrote that has never met a police officer that has had his family threatened by the lowest form of life on this planet. By actively posting the information mentioned in the above article you make the job of these criminals just that much easier. You are throwing the baby and the neighbor's baby out with the bathwater.
Having seen this first hand I can attest to the truthfulness of the above statements of fact that I've made and much more damage than good will be done, even for the most honest and forthright of the officers. Not only will you scorn the many thousands and thousands of freedom-loving, Constitution-defending police officers who ARE on your side, you will turn them against you.
Many people out there who are dealt with by the police are some of the most depraved and evil that society has to offer and until you've seen an attempt to burn an officer's house at 2 a.m. in the morning while he works and his family sleeps, until you've seen the irreparable damage that can be done by the garnishing of unlimited amounts of defaulted and bogus loans, until you've seen the damage that is done by the unsolicited mass mailings of pornographic and derogatory packages and letters received in the mail, not just by the officer but his children and his wife every day of the week, you have no concept of what this supposedly good intentioned effort by this idiot Sheehan can do to reek havoc and damage on the personal lives of every officer involved and his family members, not just the ones who need to be kept in check. And yes, there are bad officers out there, just as there are bad CEO's, bad schoolteachers, bad mechanics, bad store clerks, bad secretaries, bad contractors and bad school bus drivers. But there aren't as many as some people purport there are.
Freedom loving individuals must remember that there are a lot more police officers out there who are freedom loving Jeffersonian Democrats and libertarians who are just as revolted at the actions of an out of control big government than they could possibly realize. Readers must also realize that way too many people in this country who are not even willing to get off of their lazy duff and do what is necessary to cure the problem. They are simply happy to just sit back and throw bullets, rocks and feces at the messengers, to sit back and complain and whine and wring their hands, all the while doing nothing productive to change the political climate in this country. These are the people who should have their personal information put on the internet - the useless complainers and whiners, the sheeple who cry despair but aren't willing to even pull the right lever at election time in the privacy of the voting booth. They do much more damage and carnage than the very limited number of bad police officers that Mr. Sheehan and even the Sierra Times realizes.
The readers here had better realize that most in the police profession are much more frustrated then they, and are much more disturbed by the turn of political events in this country than they could ever possibly be, simply because not only do we see the results of bad government every single day and hour of the week, we are somehow given the arduous task of enforcing these bad laws. We must enforce them because they were enacted by Legislature which is supposedly the will of the people, and until such time as the citizens demand reparations and correction from those Legislators and these bad and unconstitutional laws are revoked, changed or rescinded, we are bound by the very Constitution that we defend to enforce them. We personally see the principles of the Constitution we have sworn to uphold torn to shreds by back room dealing and sweetheart deals in the governmental buildings in this country.
We not only personally deal with the products of free government handouts and bad government programs, we are not only bound to enforce these bad laws BECAUSE the citizenship cannot collectively get their acts together to have them changed, we must also deal with those people who spend all of their time and efforts complaining and whining but are never willing to take any action of any significance to change things. Any attempt by an honest, freedom-loving police officer in this country to suggest to people to do the right thing, any hints that are dropped as to the proper course of action that must be taken, any attempt by them to stir individual citizens to action to correct the problem, is usually just met with utter and complete resistance, or in most cases pure and simple laziness and inaction, a quiet yet dangerous condoning of the very bad laws that they are complaining of.
The police profession is one of the most stereotyped professions in the world and that particular stereotype in the overwhelming vast majority of cases could be no further from the truth.
Supposed attempts at instilling honesty and oversight in the police profession similar to those being taken by Mr. Sheehan may be somehow honorable in their intentions but it will only have the effect of destroying one of the largest and most patriotic section of freedom loving Americans that there is. Until the readers here realize that fact, until the readers here begin to hear for themselves the subtle hints that are dropped on citizens every single day by most every single officer on the job, until the readers here realize that we cannot go out and openly stir people to action because we must maintain an air of neutrality in our profession, and until the readers here actively get on their feet and start down the road to correcting the problem through action, rather than simply whining about it, nothing will get done and the problems we face will only get bigger and worse. Much bigger and worse than many here can possibly fathom.
Readers must also understand that the words of most police administrators are not the words of the officers on the street, the ones doing the job, but those of the political mechanism in place. No two viewpoints could be more diametrically opposed than that of an officer who's worked a beat for 25 years and that of an administrator employed to run such a department at the whims and folly of the politicians that control him.
It's a strange and lonely position to be put in, that of a freedom loving, libertarian citizen, a defender of the Constitution that many wave in others faces, one who happens to have the profession of a babysitter for society. I say babysitter for that's what we've become. People are less and less willing to accept personal responsibility with each day that passes; they simply want freedom handed to them. No, they DEMAND that freedom be handed to them because it is their "Right." In the words of Michael Cloud ~~ "Personal responsibility is the price of freedom." Freedom will NOT be handed to you. You MUST go out and earn it. You must not only earn it, you must fight each and every day to retain it. Vigilance is also the price of freedom, ever and eternal vigilance as in the word's of our forefathers. Do not simply sit back and demand it, for you will lose it. You will lose it to those with ill-intentions, plain and simple.
We, as patriotic police officers, despise the direction that big government is taking, we know in our hearts and minds that it's the wrong direction, yet we see examples every single day of supposed "freedom loving citizens" who cry and scream the loudest and yet do absolutely nothing of significance to change it. It creates one of the most frustrating feelings that one could ever have. The masses crying out for help, demanding that action be taken, that the country be put back on the right track, that personal values and morality return to its rightful place in the hearts and minds of Americans, and then to see nothing but inaction, nothing but more of the same no matter what attempts we take to change it.
When someone says "This is a stupid law!" we will respond with "Contact your senator" or "Vote for someone else who will change it" or "Form a group to lobby the Legislature" we are telling you in the strongest words that we can that nothing will be done until someone takes the first step. We in this profession have the distinction of seeing the results of an overly big and out of control government first hand and yet we must wear a muzzle the entire time we are fighting the same battle. As a condition of the job to remain neutral and apolitical, we must forcefully restrain our voices when we speak to the average American citizen. We are not allowed to be involved in politics in any way other than our single vote in the voting booth, and rightly so, for it must be that way. Justice must be blind.
If you don't like the laws, then get them changed or revoked. If a particular law is being abused, then remove it. If a certain politician speaks from the side of his mouth, if he says one thing and continues more of the same, then remove him from office. If government is becoming to omniscient and overpowering, then restrain it, cut it down to size. Attack the problem, not those who are necessarily empowered to blindly enforce the laws and provisions that were enacted by the representatives of you, the people. You - through your votes, you - through your inaction, you - through your failed vigilance are solely responsible for the very things that you complain about. "You" know who "you" are and I need not point "you" out.
And then we as police officers get branded as "jack-booted thugs," as "criminals with badges," as "rights stealing agents of the government." Many of the readers here apparently have no idea how frustrating and helpless a feeling that can be. "We" are simply enforcing what "you" allowed to be emplaced, so put the blame where it belongs - on "you."
We will continue to drop the subtle hints that we can to attempt to stir the people we come in contact with every single day to action. And we will continue to see the response -- or should I say non-response. It creates a feeling of despair like none other than you've ever seen unless you've been in our shoes, you've been in our position.
Some of us will sometimes cross that apolitical line in our frustration and despair and our leashes will get jerked and they will get jerked hard. I know. And I know of others. I have purposely left my name and email blank here because a viewpoint of this nature, if tied to me, could generate a personnel complaint initiated from within my own department if it were somehow tied to me, resulting in a probable suspension without pay simply because I am crossing that apolitical line as an agent of blind justice. If someone wants, I'm sure they could find out just who it typing this comment, but I'll make them work for it. But I'm frustrated enough with the wailing and crying yet inactive population of this country to take that risk. I will continue to do my job that I am good at. I will continue to drop hints on the complainers and whiners that I come across every single day. I will continue to do my job that I love the best that I can, respecting the rights of my fellow citizens the best that I can. I will continue to thwart the abuse of power granted to us by none other than "The People" the best of my abilities. After all, when I took this job I swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of this state and this country to the best of my ability and I meant it with all of my heart.
...there are a lot more police officers out there who are freedom loving Jeffersonian Democrats and libertarians
Will someone explain this term? New to me.
Interesting that some PD's publish bio's of their officers on the internet (hobbies, etc.), even distribute "bubblegum cards" with officers' photos on them, for kids. Presumably aimed at community policing. Around here, the deputies and highway patrol take their marked patrol cars home. Drive around most working class neighborhoods, not difficult to spot. All this brouhaha about sheehans website is perplexing.
July 15, 2003, 10:42 AM
hammer, I imagine that a websearch will find "Jeffersonian Democrat" to your satisfaction.
Hostility toward police varies greatly from place to place. In high-crime areas, there's much more of it. Low-crime towns or parts of cities, people regard LEOs as just part of their world and pay little attention.
The guy is dead-on correct about what "We, the People" have allowed to come to pass. Gun owners, by and large, are among the worst for mouth-music without action. We recognize what it means to lose liberty and rights, but few get into that root-cause known as politics.
Also, read up on "Identity Theft". You'll then understand how evil that website is.
Yeah, a Bad Guy could hunt up an LEO's home address, but in general most BGs are lazy. Sheehan is making life easy for BGs. Would YOU want to make evil intentions more easily accomplished?
July 15, 2003, 11:45 AM
Thanks Art, I did a search...duh!
I agree that community standards come into play...Mayberry PD has different feelings about officer information than does the Compton narc unit, I would imagine. However, why no outrage when a police dept. freely posts detailed information about its officers, as in this example: http://www.ci.ventura.ca.us/depts/pd/bios.shtm
Yet, on the topic of privacy, it seems as if .gov wants to have it both ways...as long as the purported purpose of the data furthers some goal of the state, screw privacy. And its not just for police matters. Tax departments, building inspectors, etc., etc., etc. No big privacy protests here - why not?
In this case, 95% of the data comes from government databases. Mostly just repackaged by Sheehan. Our privacy, in reality, has been invaded by our government.
So, are you arguing that this collection and maintaining of private information by the government is inherently good? That its no problem, until used by someone else? If so, the argument is not privacy, but freedom of speech, related to content, as the judge pointed out.
Some have argued for prosecuting Sheehan as co-defendant, if some unfortunate incident were to arise from this website. I asked the question before, no one responded, so I'll repeat it: Why not charge the government as co-defendants, also? They've done the yoemans work on privacy invasion, IF that really is the issue.
I believe there's another agenda at work here.
July 15, 2003, 12:39 PM
However, why no outrage when a police dept. freely posts detailed information about its officers, as in this example:
Depends on the department. Some have raised holy heck when the City put their photos on a web page, some filed suit. Perhaps the particular department, in that particular area is ok with it, on an individual choice basis.
July 15, 2003, 01:03 PM
This is already public information. If it is sensitive and dangerous to someone, it shouldn't be public, yes?
July 15, 2003, 01:04 PM
Just because someone was able to 'find it' doesn't mean it's public information.
July 15, 2003, 02:07 PM
I've been a Texas Peace Officer for over 35 years and have never, not even once, had a non-published phone number. During the time before I went plainclothes, I always wore a name tag, with first name or initials. I'll point out that it is easier to locate "J. Guest" than "R. Johnson" or "W. Smith," too.
In that time, I have had less than a dozen calls at home from disgruntled persons I met through the job. Most of these were victims or witnesses wanting to know "WHY . . ." something or other. I admit that I never worked full-time narcotics or gangs, but I DID tick off some people.
In today's environment, I might or might not choose the same course of action. I dunno. Maybe I came up in a kinder, gentler society, where even the crooks knew there were some lines drawn. Perhaps it was residual decency. Perhaps they knew that incursions into the home place would be dealt with in a, uh, SUDDEN manner. Never was an issue with me.
I will comment, though: The bullstuff about making officers available for service of civil lawsuit papers is dumb. ALL officers are available for service on the job, either at start or end of tour, if not during. Failure of the agency to allow this constitutes interference with court process.
July 15, 2003, 02:23 PM
Just because someone was able to 'find it' doesn't mean it's public information.
If it was found by searching public documents, and if another could follow behind and discover the same information by searching the same public documents then it absolutely is public information. If he stole the information from confidential files, that's something else altogether.
The guy may be vindictive scum, but he's not doing anything really wrong. Further, I'm disgusted that their legislature saw fit to pass a law that created protected classes. Why should LEOs, court personnel and corrections officers be granted a higher level of protection from distribution of personal information than I?
July 15, 2003, 02:52 PM
Well, guys, what do y'all think of this site?
July 15, 2003, 03:49 PM
1 (Yes, ONE) accused officer, in Washington state.
I have to wonder, what that one cop did to upset all those people?
Upon checking out the site further, it appears extensive and fairly well designed. Certainly, it goes beyond something originated by one ticked-off person, and bang into the realm of a flippin' CRUSADE!
Can't help but wonder: Who's footing the bill? What's the true agenda?
In my 35 years as a peace officer, I have indeed known a few - -a VERY few - - cops who engaged in criminal activity. There were a lot more who were lazy or careless - - still reprehensible, yes, but as a group, fewer of them than in most other walks of life.
I guess, though, that if I cared to look, I could find similar sites devoted to bashing physicians, attorneys, teachers, clergy, and widget sales people.
Oh, well . . . .
July 15, 2003, 09:05 PM
Doesn’t bother me personally*, but then I made the decision a long time ago to be as public and open as possible. Information is nothing, what is done with that information is everything.
*I understand the trepidation people might feel over such information being made readily available and I don’t fault them for it at all. I know more than a few officers that change into/out of their uniform at their station in order to avoid “broadcasting” what their job is.
July 15, 2003, 11:36 PM
Lots of us GI's do the same when we arrive and depart our duty stations. Sad commentary on the times, as it were. :(
July 16, 2003, 12:45 AM
Hammer, to me, what this guy is doing is little different from the old Black Panther days and Huey P. Newton yowling, "Off the pigs!" He's easing the acquisition of personal information in a format that equates to some incitement against LEOs.
Sure, a bad guy can find out the information. But why make it easy for a bad guy to be bad?
The fact that the government snoops, or makes personal information available to all and sundry has nothing to do with what this clown is doing.
I don't like the idea of my SS # being required for a driver's license or any other use besides by my bank and its relationship with the IRS. I've at least gotten my state rep. in Texas concerned about the state's facilitating identity theft. The idea of some private individual spreading this info around is despicable.
I dunno. If I have a gripe against some LEO, it's between that guy and me, not his entire department. I might work at making his life miserable, if possible, but not those individuals who have done me no harm. I'm not into "they" and "them". This Sheehan creature is nothing but a gutless Tim McVeigh: "YOU guys get THEM!"
July 16, 2003, 04:21 AM
I work at a hotel part time.
I have had LEO come in twice, with no uniform. Flash a wallet badge and demand to know all the names and addresses of people staying in the hotel (once it was for a specific weekend, second time guy followed one of our regular business women in late at night and wanted information for that night).
I politely refuse to provide list of everyone there. Offer to provide them with information if they have a name, description, lic plate, or vehical description.
Their response is to try to dominate and scare me (yell, try to invade personal space, etc).
I keep responding with "I am sorry, but without a warrent or a specific name I don't feel that I can provide you with that information."
They make claims like "it is an on going invesitgation and they can't tell me the name". Which is a REAL big LIE, if they take someone out of my hotel I will know who it is QED. And if I were helping the bad guys all I have to do is give a fake (or edited) list to the cops.
Of course these LEO don't know how many years I worked with (or shared classes with) LEO officers, county attorneys, and such.
The first officer came back about a week later. No warrent. But he did have an attitude change, and a polite letter on letterhead asking for information about a specific case.
Was a rape case. And I spent 5 to 10 minutes digging enough info out of the investigating officer so I could help him answer the questions he would need answered, but didn't know to ask. I was shocked that he didn't really seem to know how to investigate the incident (he was no kid). He was still trying to figure out what hotel in town it was supposed to have happened at, I was able to provide him with the right kind of questions to ask to help figure that out.
In college I studied forensics and criminology, but I expected a bit better investigation skills from an experienced police detective. I thought I might learn something from him, instead I tutored him :confused:
The other guy never came back, I am fairly certain he does work on the "vice squad" but he was either just fishing or wanting personal info on the woman he followed.
BTW people here might be interested to know that LEO usually do get information like that when they just walk in and ask. Most people think LEO has the right to do things like that.
They don't AFAIK, they can ask but not required to provide such info everyweek.
I am not talking about if they have a warrent or such. Do most of the people here really know the kinds of things LE do? Techniques they use for "interrogation" for instance?
Not saying all are bad or even most, but I have noticed that many have a hard time remembering that they can be told no because most of the time they need to dominate and control situation. But in some situations and places they should be told no IMHO. And reminded that just because they are LEO they are not able to trample other peoples privacy and such.
BTW I would like to hear LE side of the incidents I mentioned above, feel free to PM or email if you prefer. I don't want to be breaking houserules ;)
Also I might mention that the best Boss I had when I worked security was a retired LEO that had worked IA more than a little. I could tell a few more stories.
If you enjoyed reading about "LEO's, what's your take on this?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!