Clearwater Police Lieutenant Richard Crean is under investigation by the Clearwater, Florida police department for allegedly using a police database illegally. As the basis of the investigation, Lt. Crean is accused of using the database to obtain the personal information of a woman linked to Laura McLynas’ estranged husband James McLynas. Lt. Crean is said to have retrieved certain demographic information on Harwell in abuse of his police duties and turning that information over to Laura McLynas. Harwell claims the information has been used to harass her and entangle her in an ongoing, turbulent custody battle between James and Laura McLynas.
Oddly enough, from what I’ve read it appears the allegation is that Lt. Crean obtained no information of an overly sensitive nature. I understand the information allegedly gathered to be a name, address and date of birth; all things our good friends at Google likely could have provided. I don’t believe Lt. Crean, if charged with this crime is guilty of a heinous spill of sensitive information that could cause financial injury. If he did in fact obtain this information illegally, his actions wholly fly in the face of what “we the people” must have and deserve of our police officers, honesty and integrity. That’s not to say that if he did it he’s not an honest and good officer. The police are people too and people make mistakes. In his situation, if he did it, he will likely suffer a stiffer burden than most in that he would likely lose his career.
Florida Statute 815.06(1) is very likely the statute at issue in this allegation. This statute states in pertinent part,
“Whoever willfully, knowingly, and without authorization:
(a) Accesses or causes to be accessed any computer, computer system, or computer network…. commits a felony of the third degree.
I am unsure as to how the Police or State Attorney’s Office realized that Lt. Crean is allegedly responsible for this illegally obtained information. If he made an admission or Laura McLynas made a statement that he did it, he very likely will be charged. My previous paragraph mentioned damages to the victim. Damages, with respect to this charge, are completely irrelevant. This is very much a policy oriented law. With respect to police departments it almost has to be enforced if for nothing else but to send a message that police meddling won’t be tolerated.
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