Denver Officer Suspended for Misusing FBI Database

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A Denver Police Department sergeant is in trouble for leaving his post during a patrol shift and misusing a federal criminal database in an attempt to find his daughter’s missing cellphone, the Denver Post reports. Sgt. Joseph Rodarte will be suspended without pay for three days for failing to obey departmental rules about using the National Crime Information Center database and failing to devote his duty time to patrolling. Misuse of the criminal database, which is maintained by the FBI, has been a recurring problem at the department. In 2016, Denver’s police watchdog called for tougher penalties for abuse of the database, saying police who misused power eroded public trust in the department.

Independent monitor Nick Mitchell identified 43 allegations of NCIC misuse during a 10-year period. Cases in 2015 involved an officer using the database to find a nurse’s phone number so he could ask her on a date and an officer who used it to help a friend figure out who his ex-wife was dating. A 2016 Associated Press investigation found misuse of the database is a national problem. It detailed 575 instances where law enforcement officers and employees were disciplined for misuse of the database. Denver’s Rodarte used the “Find My iPhone” app to trace his daughter’s missing cellphone to a Denver Water Board facility. He made 24 inquiries into the NCIC system as he ran license plate numbers of vehicles in the employee parking lot.

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