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Criminals Can Easily Get Your Confidential Information from the Police

Categories: NEC

June 14, 2010

Did you know that, for criminals, one of the most reliable and easily accessible sources of confidential information is the police computer in the squad car?  They can even get the information with their hands cuffed behind their backs!

A Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Officer works on the MDT.  Confidential data is routinely displayed in plain view of an arrested suspect sitting in the back seat.
When a suspect is arrested, he/she is typically placed in the back seat of a police squad car.  The arresting officer will then enter information related to the crime, including confidential information on victims, witnesses, etc., into a police computer known as a mobile data terminal (MDT) located next to the driver's seat in the police squad car.  The suspect has clear view of the information being entered and displayed, and the data remains on the screen long enough for the average person to read it and memorize it.  If you are the one who calls the police to report a crime, there's a good chance the suspect can get your last name, first name, middle name, address, telephone number(s), date of birth, social security number, height, weight, hair color, eye color, place of employment, and more.

As far as I know, reading and memorizing information in public view is not a crime.  What the suspect does with that information may or may not be a crime.  If charges against a suspect are dismissed, or the suspect is exonerated, the suspect's use of the information to file a civil suit against the person who filed the original complaint against the suspect is probably also not a crime.  But allowing a suspect to have such confidential information could increase your chances of becoming the victim of additional retaliatory crimes ranging from identity theft all the way up to murder.

What can you do to prevent this?  First, take the basic, proactive steps to avoid having to call the police to begin with.  These steps include locking your house when you leave, walking in well-lighted areas, being aware of your surroundings, not leaving your keys or purse in your car unattended, etc.

If you are involved in an incident, insist that the officer do his MDT work either before the suspect is placed in the car, or after the suspect has been removed.  Also insist that the officer not display any screen with your information on it while the suspect is in the car.  Unfortunately, the average officer will probably assure you there is no threat, and ignore your request.

There is one other thing I can think of that might help.  Always maintain a mailing address separate from your home address.  Use the mailing address, not your home address, whenever possible.  In Nevada, and probably many other states, you are allowed to have a mailing address, not your residential address, listed on your driver's license.  When you identify yourself to a police officer, he will most likely use the address on your driver's license.  If your mailing address is entered into the MDT, the suspect will see that address, but not your residential address.  That may make it more difficult for a suspect to find out where you live.  Unfortunately, in Nevada, you must have your residential address listed on your vehicle registration, so if the incident involves your vehicle, the arresting officer may enter your residential address into the MDT rather than the mailing address.

Finally, let your family and friends know about the risk, and encourage them to contact their local police departments, city councils, etc., and express their concerns.

Copyright © 2010 Jonas Maxwell. All rights reserved.


User Comments:
melissa - Jun 22, 2011 03:04:57 — i would like to see my police records online but i can't see them. why?
Jonas - Jun 22, 2011 07:47:43 — I don't think police departments make such records available online, but I could be wrong. Nevada does publish online a list of traffic charges (regardless of the final disposition) that anyone can find just by searching by the driver's name. But I don't think more serious records would be made th ...more
Jonas - Jun 22, 2011 08:09:30 — Maybe I should add that the MDT system is not a part of the World Wide Web, which is what we usually think of when we hear the word "online". MDT's are basically high-tech visual radios. Calls are dispatched to police in the field via radio signals and are displayed in text on the MDTs.  ...more

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