A Michigan panel that oversees criminal data to make sure personal information isn’t misused will be disbanded Sunday, leaving some local law enforcement officials peeved over their cost of using the network, reports the Detroit Free Press. They fear that the change could make it harder to punish police or others for misusing the system to gain access to citizens’ criminal histories for personal use. State police say the concerns are unfounded. Gov. Jennifer Granholm abolished the Criminal Justice Information Systems Policy Council on July 15, after a dispute over how much the state should charge local police, courts and prosecutors to use the Law Enforcement Information Network (LEIN).
The LEIN helps police track whether motorists and crime suspects have criminal records. The LEIN includes fingerprints and such personal information as addresses, driving records and criminal records. A Free Press investigation in 2001 found that 90 Michigan police officers, dispatchers and federal agents used LEIN to stalk women, intimidate motorists and obtain dirt on personal enemies over a five-year period. Granholm put the State Police in charge of both funding the LEIN and watching itself for LEIN misuse, said Allegan County Sheriff Blaine Koops, chairman of the CJIS council. “Without the council, there’s no independent oversight,” Koops said.