BALTIMORE - The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland today is urging Maryland Public Safety Secretary Gary Maynard to launch an audit of the Anne Arundel County Police Department's use of a state criminal history database, to determine whether information on County Executive John Leopold's political "enemies" was inappropriately accessed and disseminated. The ACLU letter also asks that remedial action be taken if improper use is found, and that the results of the audit be publicly reported.
"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. "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."
In the letter, the ACLU asks Secretary Maynard to review the Maryland Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS) database logs to determine whether criminal history record information was improperly accessed for non-law enforcement purposes, and/or whether such information was improperly disseminated to persons outside of the police agency. If such improper access or dissemination is found, the ACLU requests that the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services take appropriate remedial measures against the County Police Department.
Last week, the ACLU filed additional public information requests with the County and Police Department on behalf of both prominent individuals and plaintiffs accusing Leopold of sex discrimination. The group also reiterated a request to the County Council for a full investigation and called upon both Leopold and County Police Chief James Teare to come clean to the public about what was and was not done.
The ACLU remains concerned that the data compilation by county police regarding perceived political enemies violates the 2009 Freedom of Association and Assembly Protection Act, passed in the wake of the Maryland State Police surveillance scandal. That law restricts police from conducting investigations into activities protected by the First Amendment, unless conducted for a legitimate law enforcement purpose.