Since 2001, the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association has been linking case files of law enforcement agencies around the state to build a searchable system police can use to share information on people their officers have had contact with, the Associated Press reports.
More than 175 agencies that police two thirds of the state’s population participate in the Multiple Jurisdictional Network Organization, sharing nearly 8 million records. Though still owned by the chiefs, in March the state took over running it.
The network doesn’t just tell police if a person has been convicted of a crime. It also tells whether they’ve ever been arrested or if they appear in police files as a victim, a suspect, a complainant or a witness. It has juvenile files.
After questions from people who’ve found themselves scrutinized, the network is facing questions about the state’s involvement, the authority of a private group to build it, whether people can get access to information shown about them, and whether the system is accurate and secure.
At least one lawmaker is planning hearings and an attorney is exploring a lawsuit with the hope of shutting MJNO down.
Scott Chapman, a computer systems administrator, was at a political rally. when a police officer asked to search his fanny pack. He learned later that the officer was suspicious in part because he’d searched the network and found that Chapman had requested but been denied permission to carry a concealed carry permit. “Here I’ve done nothing wrong. I’ve done everything right. I applied for a legal permit and followed the process,” Chapman said. “Now I find out that my name is commingled with all of the felons and arrestees and everyone else? It just seems wrong.”