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  • Background check question

    Recently, I read a thread on o.com about whether or not it is illegal for someone to run a background check on themself. Here is my question. I am currently doing an internship at my local PD (I am in highschool, and it is a good way to get my foot in the door), and I have access to the arrest records of nearly everybody in town. While using the data software to do legitimate work (I was logging some information for the detectives), I looked at my own arrest record a couple of times (I knew there wasn't anything there, I was just curious). A different time, I ran across the name of somebody I thought I knew (same name, different person), and, after realizing my mistake, I went BACK into that same person's record and looked again. I also ran my father's name through the computer just to see the NAME pop up, but then I accidentally (it was an accident) clicked on it.

    Will this be a problem later in life (approx. 5 years) when I go to apply to departments (keep in mind that I never talked to any of the people about looking at their records, and I never gave away any personal information)? Or will it just be looked upon as "being a teenager"? (I plan on disclosing it and being honest, of course.) Everybody at the station has said I have been doing a fantastic job, but this still worries me.

    Thanks
    Last edited by etuvell; 08-17-2008, 07:40 AM. Reason: Added something and edited something
    "It peed on me! That's resisting arrest." (Kelso, "That 70's Show")

  • #2
    Pulling up an arrest record for anything other than official business is a violation of both law and department policy. Technically, that would include running your own history on a LE Terminal. It's perfectly legal to run your history, or that of another, through the court system or a non-law enforcement terminal. It also usually involves a fee for the record. There are any number of private firms which run Background Checks on individuals, all of which is perfectly legal. Again, these checks are run on non-law enforcement terminals. You may be thinking that the same basic information is retrieved, and you're correct. The catch is, that Federal and State Law, as well as department policy strictly govern the issuance of information obtained from a LE terminal. In all likelihood, the issue will come up in your PHS or other phase of your application. Be honest about it, and in the meantime, make no more unauthorized queries on the system.

    Comment


    • #3
      I don't plan on making any more. Do you think it will be a major problem, though? Or do you think I will be able to just explain it and move on?
      "It peed on me! That's resisting arrest." (Kelso, "That 70's Show")

      Comment


      • #4
        If it was just an arrest record that information is available to the public. If it was something other than that it's a different story.

        Comment


        • #5
          @ AzDogs:

          Yes, all they were were arrest records. The only things it listed were personal info (address, violent criminal, living or dead, etc), date, crime, statute, case #, court date (when it was closed), outcome (guilty, etc.), and comments (such as why they were found guilty, not guilty, etc.). I did not look at the reports of the crimes, or anything else. It was just the charges and the things mentioned above. Will this be a big deal? If so, will I be able to overcome it?

          The people at the PD have seen that I am a very hard worker, so I am hoping that they will remember that in the future and just look at the above as youthful indiscretions.
          Last edited by etuvell; 08-17-2008, 09:18 PM.
          "It peed on me! That's resisting arrest." (Kelso, "That 70's Show")

          Comment


          • #6
            Would telling my intern supervisor about this be a good idea? I am thinking it would show I am responsible, and hopefully bring up my integrity as well.
            "It peed on me! That's resisting arrest." (Kelso, "That 70's Show")

            Comment


            • #7
              It sounds like you looked at electronic records maintained by the department. If that is the case you should have been told before they granted you access the policy on what you were allowed to look up and when you were allowed to look up information. If you did not comply with that policy then obviously you messed up. At two of the agencies I worked the policy was simple, if I was looking at department maintained files don't reveal any information. I could look up any information I wanted at any time I wanted, for no particular reason. My current agency requires I have a valid LE reason to look at any files, but it is a federal system.

              If the information was on the NCIC or state system then you violated policy.
              But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new guards for their future security.

              For the intelectually challenged: If the government screws the people enough, it is the right and responsibility of the people to revolt and form a new government.

              Comment


              • #8
                The part of the program I used only included local criminal information as far as I know. It is a program that can do many things (including "talking" to the state), but the part I looked at was only for our town (it did not list out-of-town arrests, unless they had something to do with mutual aid). I never did reveal any personal information, as that would be completely inappropriate and would be very difficult to explain in the background process.

                For the actions mentioned in this thread, I knew I wasn't supposed to do what I did. Nobody at the police department told me what I could/could not look up (all they said was don't give away personal information), but I had read on o.com that I was not supposed to do it. This is the first time I have intentionally violated an employer's major rule as far as I can remember (I am not getting payed, but I am doing work for them). I have always been a very hard worker who follows rules, so I am disappointed in myself for doing this.

                However, I am not really sure how much this department would care. Here is why I say that. While I was sitting in on dispatch, the head dispatcher was teaching somebody (a "rookie" dispatcher) how to run information. They turned to me and asked me if I had received any speeding tickets, to which I replied "no". They then ran my driving record without an legal reason to do so. By the way, they found out I was telling the truth. I have never been pulled over.

                Now, I know that the tickets is a little bit different, but in some ways it is the same.

                I have a few questions that nobody has answered yet (though I do sincerely thank everybody for their responses).
                1) Is this something that will able to be explained in the background check process? Will it be a major problem, or will it be a minor one?
                2) Should I tell my supervisor about it? I have a good relationship with him, and I was thinking it might actually look good if I "fessed up".

                Thanks to everybody who read this, and stay safe,
                E.
                "It peed on me! That's resisting arrest." (Kelso, "That 70's Show")

                Comment


                • #9
                  Just because you "man up" about it (which I recommend), they can still fire you for misuse of the system, depending on the policy, regardless of any "relationship" with anyone.
                  The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, cannot and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheepdog who intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed.

                  I Am the Sheepdog.


                  "And maybe just remind the few, if ill of us they speak,
                  that we are all that stands between
                  the monsters and the weak." - Michael Marks


                  sigpic

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I know that they can still "fire" me (or end the internship) regardless of the relationship. I don't, however, think that they will based on the fact that they didn't ever tell me what I was not allowed to do. As long as I am honest, admit my mistakes, and don't let it happen again, I am seriously hoping that I will be fine.
                    "It peed on me! That's resisting arrest." (Kelso, "That 70's Show")

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      If it was not specified what you could or could not do, you should be fine. You may get a verbal reprimand at worst.

                      Good luck!
                      The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, cannot and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheepdog who intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed.

                      I Am the Sheepdog.


                      "And maybe just remind the few, if ill of us they speak,
                      that we are all that stands between
                      the monsters and the weak." - Michael Marks


                      sigpic

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        It shouldn't be a problem though when going for the background check?
                        "It peed on me! That's resisting arrest." (Kelso, "That 70's Show")

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I would mention it, but it shouldnt be too much a problem if you were not told.
                          The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, cannot and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheepdog who intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed.

                          I Am the Sheepdog.


                          "And maybe just remind the few, if ill of us they speak,
                          that we are all that stands between
                          the monsters and the weak." - Michael Marks


                          sigpic

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by etuvell View Post
                            For the actions mentioned in this thread, I knew I wasn't supposed to do what I did. Nobody at the police department told me what I could/could not look up (all they said was don't give away personal information), but I had read on o.com that I was not supposed to do it. This is the first time I have intentionally violated an employer's major rule as far as I can remember (I am not getting payed, but I am doing work for them). I have always been a very hard worker who follows rules, so I am disappointed in myself for doing this.
                            The thing you need to understand is YOUR agency's policy on the use of it's databases. If you hang around officer long enough you will read that agency policies vary widely. It isn't important what an agency's policy in California is if you work in New Hampshire. Heck the policies in Los Angeles aren't important if you work in San Fransisco. It is possible that your agency's policy is, "You can look up any information on the local database, just not divulge anything." I'm not saying to use the defense of, "I didn't know." That is the worst excuse you can use. What I am saying is find out what your agency's policy is. If you violated it then take appropriate actions, if you didn't there isn't an issue.

                            Training is a valid LE function. So when the dispatcher ran your name in a training environment it was valid LE function. Some states have even entered fictional people into the system so they didn't have to run real people. One such person is Aloicious Hogwhistle. It's been awhile so I don't recall his DOB but he is in the system and he is completely fictional and a dirt bag.
                            But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new guards for their future security.

                            For the intelectually challenged: If the government screws the people enough, it is the right and responsibility of the people to revolt and form a new government.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I sent an e-mail to my supervisor explaining the situation and apologizing. I have assured him that it will not happen again. I figured it would be in my best interests to let him know, so that he can see that I am responsible for my actions and that I don't really mean to do any harm. This is my first time doing something like this, so hopefully they will "cut me some slack." If not, I will take responsibility; it's my own fault, anyways.
                              "It peed on me! That's resisting arrest." (Kelso, "That 70's Show")

                              Comment

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