ACLU calls on state to audit database in Leopold case

The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland on Tuesday called on the state Public Safety secretary to launch an audit of the Anne Arundel County Police Department's use of the state criminal history database in order to determine whether information on the county executive's alleged "enemies list" was accessed and disseminated.

The ACLU sent a letter to Gary D. Maynard, the secretary of Public Safety & Correctional Services, asking him to review the database logs for the Maryland Criminal Justice Information System to determine whether criminal history record information was improperly accessed for non-law enforcement purposes and whether the information was disseminated.

According to a criminal indictment, Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold directed his taxpayer-funded security detail to investigate his political foes and compile dossiers. In response to an open records request, the county police department last week released documents alleged to be part of the dossiers. The county's response also said it would not release some records from the database that contained within one of the files because it is illegal to disseminate the information.

"Maryland law authorizes the Public Safety Secretary to investigate credible allegations of misuse of the Criminal Justice Information System database, and we believe that is just what is called for here," said Deborah Jeon, Legal Director for the ACLU of Maryland, in a statement. "The Police Department has already told us that CJIS files were found in at least one of the 'dossiers' collected on Mr. Leopold's perceived 'enemies' – which strongly suggests the database was improperly accessed. Under these troubling circumstances, 'No Comment' from the County Executive and Police Chief just doesn't fly. We hope Secretary Maynard can get the public some answers."

Both Leopold and Police Chief Col. James E. Teare, Sr. have declined to comment.

A spokesman for the Department of Public Safety & Correctional Services did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Asked to comment last week, Rick Binetti, a spokesman for the department, which is the custodian of the database, said the agency has "no way of knowing why a particular CJIS search is conducted by an access agency," but that it conducts audits to ensure proper usage of the database.

Binetti said the agency had not been "made aware" of any "unauthorized or inappropriate" search of the database by county police or the Maryland state prosecutor, and therefore had not begun an investigation.

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