Sunday, July 26, 2009

Power Corrupts

Steve Sailer points to a 2001 AP article on the conviction of a Chicago policeman for heisting jewelry stores:

Prosecutors had said previously that [former chief of detectives William]Hanhardt, although retired from the force, had been able to make use of police computers to get information about such matters as car rentals by jewelry salesmen. Many of the thefts were from automobiles parked by unsuspecting salesmen.

If you had asked me, I would have guessed that if police wanted to look at the records of a rental car company, they would have to appear before a magistrate, show probable cause, and obtain a warrant. I would have then conceded that, if the rental car company is not the subject of investigation, then the detectives should be allowed to see the records with the company's cooperation. But come to find out, police can see rental car records in real time from their own desks.

This is way too much power for the police to have, precisely because of this kind of scenario. There just isn't enough "check and balance" to put obstacles in the way of, not only rouge rogue policemen, but anybody else that can gain access to the police computers. At least the requirement that detectives physically visit the agency and formally make a request puts more people in the loop, and makes the bad actors easier to spot.


Kirt33 said...

Rouge policemen?!? This is another one of them racial things, eh?

Φ said...

Good catch.