Tuesday, April 04, 2006

South Florida police expose personal information of reporter who criticized them

A hidden-camera investigation earlier this year that showed South Florida police departments engaging in aggressive tactics to prevent people from filing complaints against police officers has resulted in retaliation by the grossly misnamed Broward County Police Benevolent Association. WFOR CBS-4 investigative reporter Mike Kirsch's personal information--his address, birthdate, and driver's license number--was posted by Broward County PBA president Dick Brickman on the police union's website as a "BOLO"--"be on the lookout." Also posted was information about Gregory Slate of The Police Complaint Center, which assisted with Kirsch's report. Alan Rosenthal, attorney for CBS-4, demanded that the union remove the "BOLO" as a violation of laws prohibiting disclosure of "personal identifying information contained in motor vehicle records." (Via Declan McCullagh's Politech mailing list.)

Kirsch's address and date of birth was apparently removed from the BCPBA website on March 17, but Slate's address, cell phone, and date of birth are still there.

The "BOLO" focuses not on the complaint report investigation, but a related racial profiling investigation, where either a white man (Kirsch or Slate) or a black man (identified on the "BOLO" as Dorian Gibson, age 21) would be driving a red Mustang convertible (its information is also given in the document). In the investigation results, the white driver was never pulled over but the black driver was. According the BCPBA description, the white driver would first drive around, then the black driver in the same car. For a proper study, they should reverse the ordering so that the issue isn't that the police first see one driver, then a completely different driver for the same car, which could produce an inference of a stolen vehicle regardless of the race of the respective drivers.

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