Saturday, March 11, 2006

Cops moonlighting as private eyes…

There’s been some recent controversy about cops working as private investigators. All because a couple of cops were giving criminal history and motor vehicle information to a disgraced former Hollywood private investigator, and convicted felon, Anthony Pellicano.

I argue that most of the National Crime Information Center’s records should be made public and placed on the Internet for all to see. Certainly the records involving the criminal conviction and stolen property databases can be opened. The truth here is politicians and bureaucrats that make the NCIC policy and I have never agreed on much of anything. They’ve managed to maintain a secret government just like the old Soviet Union’s KGB. It’s an expensive pain in the butt but we private eyes can still get subpoenas to get the NCIC protected information.

The silly “Maxwell Smart” NCIC policy opens the door to corruption as some clerks, data processors and law enforcement personnel have turned the policy into a cottage industry. Modern safeguards have ended most of the abuses.

Most private eyes view having cops in the business is unfair competition. The PI’s that complain the most have no law enforcement training or experience and are generally lousy investigators. I disagree with that because I view experience and training of cops as a real asset. It’s wrong to assume that cops will abuse their NCIC peeking privileges if they work for as a PI.

These days, there are solid safeguards in place to discover record snooping by cops in material that’s not germane to their ongoing law enforcement work. If in doubt simply ask the two “Pellicano” cops facing being fired, losing pension rights, disgrace and prison.

The only conflict I see is moonlighting cops doing criminal defense work. Bodyguard, civil case investigations and insurance fraud matters should be wide open for off duty officers.

The LAPD is now reviewing their off-duty police employment rules. I expect, as usual they will do the wrong thing.


Anonymous said...

Lets me get this straight - I want to buy some swag but don't want any that is reported stolen ie numbers etc given to police, so I check with NCIC to see if a can purchase.

Anonymous said...

Opening the stolen records will lead to far more recoveries and arrests.

If people could most people would check out itwms before they spend their money on them.

People can be counted on informing on those trying to unload hot goods. I would consider giving cash rewards for information to those who aid in recovery or arrest.

Gun collectors HATE people selling stolen guns...

John Mosby said...

The most bizarre thing about NCIC is that almost every piece of info in there is itself a public record.

Think about the chain of events starting at arrest: in most states, the desk blotter is a public record, the arraignment takes place in a public courtroom, the trial, if any, is public, or if there's a plea bargain, the plea has to be entered in a public hearing, etc., etc. Yet somehow the amassing of all this public information in one place is suddenly secret and private.

A good Google or Lexis/Nexis search can probably find more accurate info than NCIC/NLETS, especially if the bad guy has used his own name (big assumption, true).


Paul Huebl Crimefile News said...

JM that was my point exactly!