Trooper Investigated For Running Unauthorized Checks
August 14, 2008
Talk about a big no-no!
It’s common knowledge in the screening industry that there must be a permissible purpose to run a background check on someone and that someone must sign a release form allowing the check to take place. One can’t just check out someone else’s background because they are curious or want to try to use the information they find for personal reasons. Obviously this law enforcement official missed that day in training class and has landed himself in all kinds of trouble.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A state trooper is being investigated for allegedly running unauthorized criminal background checks.
Lieutenant Ronnie Shirley is accused of running the checks on private citizens and state employees.
Investigators are trying to determine if Shirley sought private information for political reasons.
Shirley remains at work during the investigation, but he has been stripped of his computer access to the law enforcement database known as the Criminal justice Portal.
“This particular portal has criminal background checks,” said former prosecutor David Raybin. “It has confidential information about criminal investigations.”
Raybin helped create the site.
“I worked on setting up this portal and I am outraged that it’s being used inappropriately,” he said.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol is investigating if Shirley accessed the site to dig up dirt on folks in the political arena.
“People can use it to blackmail each other with, investigate each other, find out things in investigations that can embarrass people. And in a political campaign it can be used in an inappropriate way,” Raybin said.
Shirley has made headlines in 2004. An investigation found he helped get a speeding ticket dismissed for Dave Cooley, then a top aide to Governor Phil Bredesen.
Some now wonder if the THP should be investigating one of their own.
“If members of the THP are accessing this inappropriately, I would suggest the attorney general get involved in this, the district attorney, and the TBI,” Raybin said.
The THP has refused to identify the subjects of Shirley’s background checks.
However, NewsChannel 5 has learned that prominent Republican Bob Eckerman could possibly be one of the targets. In an email Wednesday, the THP said that it would neither confirm nor deny if that was true.
It could take up to three more weeks for the THP to wrap complete its investigation. The findings will then be turned over to a district attorney to review.
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