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Police officers around the United States use police databases to creep on women, celebrities, journalists, and their neighbors, according to the disturbing results of an Associated Press investigation. The Associated Press' investigation revealed that cops aren't just using their official databases to look into suspects and generally do their job, but also dig into the personal lives of romantic interests, sometimes leading to stalking.
While it's impossible to find out exactly how often police offers are misusing their databases, but using information given to it by major police departments, the Associated Press found that "law enforcement officers and employees who misused databases were fired, suspended or resigned more than 325 times between 2013 and 2015." The Associated Press discovered that among those who misused databases for personal purposes, 250 were reprimanded in a minor way, and 90 others were given an "unspecified" punishment.
The Associated Press reports that one officer who was punished was a cop from Ohio who stalked his girlfriend using police databases. Similarly, an officer in Michigan looked up women who he was romantically interested in. Other cops searched for information about famous celebrities as well as journalists who wrote critical things about the cops.
The Associated Press noted that misuses of police databases are extremely low in number when compared to the millions of ethical and legal database searches, but the misuse can have a hugely negative impact on victims.
Alexis Dekany, a woman from Ohio whose cop ex-boyfriend was punished after he used police database information to stalk her told the Associated Press, "It's personal. It's your address. It's all your information, it's your Social Security number, it's everything about you. And when they use it for ill purposes to commit crimes against you — to stalk you, to follow you, to harass you... it just becomes so dangerous."