Sunday, December 21, 2008

ME - Effectiveness of Sex Offender Registries Explored By Legislators

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09/29/2008

Reported by: A.J. Higgins

As the lawsuits pile up in the state's courts over the constitutionality of Maine's sex offender registry laws, members of the Legislature and other key state leaders met today for a day-long conference on national sex offender policies in general and the effectiveness of registries in particular. Many offenders are challenging a change in the state's 1999 registry law that requires violators to register for convictions that took place up to 26 years ago.


FL - Florida Dad Who Locked Up 9-Year-Old Son Gets 9 Years in Prison

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Once again, proof that most kids are abused by their own parents, not some stranger. And I do believe the sex hysteria has everyone over-reacting, just like these parents "claim!"

12/21/2008

JACKSONVILLE - A judge said a Jacksonville father who kept his 9-year-old son locked in a bedroom for much of his life should spend nine years in prison himself.

Circuit Judge Mallory Cooper sentenced Randall Warren Piercy, 44, on Friday. Piercy had pleaded guilty to aggravated child abuse.

During a day of testimony Piercy's wife, who is also charged with child abuse, testified she and her husband both were victims of childhood sexual abuse and that left them extremely protective of their son.

Piercy told the judge that cameras monitored her son and that her husband used the intercom to let him know when he could come out of his bedroom to eat. He ate alone at the dining room table monitored by two more cameras.
- Wow, this kid is going to be screwed up emotionally for a long time to come.  I sure hope someone gets him help now?


IA - Creston's residents reluctant to speak about charges against former police officers

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Sounds like the whole town is trying to protect the police, or, are afraid to say anything, which leads to another question, "Why?"

12/21/2008

Creston - The gentle hills of southwestern Iowa rise and fall on the road leading here, past snow-dusted hay bales, farmsteads adorned with Christmas trees, abandoned barns and a sign for "Al Tomlinson Still Living Taxidermy."

Residents like to think of Creston as a place where bad things don't happen. As you cross into this town of 8,000, it's easy to see why. Streets are paved with brick. Light poles are decorated with Christmas wreathes. Grain elevators loom like concrete tombstones of the vanishing small-town lifestyle. A miniature replica of town sits in the lobby of City Hall, encircled by model trains.

But as the town prepared for its annual "There's No Place Like Creston For The Holidays" celebration earlier this month, the small-town Christmas joy seemed to sheath people's feelings. That's because, if allegations from the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation are to be believed, something bad did happen here, and the alleged bad guys were those who pledged to keep Creston safe.

The trial for Creston's former police chief and his assistant, both charged with felony second-degree sexual abuse after an April incident at a golf club's bar, was supposed to begin in the middle of Christmas festivities. It was postponed until March, however, leaving Creston with a few more months of unsubstantiated rumors and strained relationships as the town awaits answers to what, exactly, happened that night.

"People are very upset about this," said Betty Shelton, a City Council member who has lived in Creston for 45 years. "Something like this - when you depend on people to be in charge of the town and to keep everybody safe, and they go out and do something like this - it's devastating. And it's something nobody would expect a police officer to do."

People here don't like to talk about the trial, except for heated online discussions that afford a shade of anonymity in a town with few secrets. Perhaps emotions remain unspoken because the media spotlight rarely shines here like it did after the June arrests. Or because the trial has been moved 194 miles away to Sioux City, as if moving the elephant to another room would make it disappear altogether.

Or because, when a small town's sense of protection is threatened and its protectors are accused, lines are drawn between neighbors and friends, classmates and colleagues.

A tough thing to talk about

If you ask Creston residents how their town has coped with the alleged breach of trust from its police department, you'll get similar answers:

"I just want to stay out of this one," Creston High School Principal Todd Wolverton said.

"I don't or won't have a comment. Please do not stop by," T.J. Stalker of Stalker Chevrolet Cadillac said.

"I really don't have anything," said Union County Sheriff Rick Piel. "We're all probably about the same. It'll be pretty hard to find someone to talk to."

"I'd rather not," Rob Crabb, owner C & C Kar Sales, said with a laugh. "You're going to hear that quite a bit probably. I would just rather not get involved."

"Nobody's going to want to talk to you about it," said new Police Chief Paul Ver Meer, who took over in October. "It's in the past and (the police department is) moving on."

But part of healing is acceptance, right? And if nobody talks about it, can a town really begin to heal?

"Nobody here talks about it," longtime Creston resident Patricia Bishop said. "You come down here, you want to talk with the mayor and City Hall, they might talk with you."

Allegations shock small town

Things like this don't happen in Creston.
- Well, you need to come back from fantasy land.  Things like this happen everywhere!

Except in this case, when according to state investigators, they did.

What Creston residents keep silent about is tucked in a folder on the second floor of Union County Courthouse, one floor above the Creston Police Department.

Flip through the files for James Alan Christensen, the former chief of police, and John West Sickels, the former assistant chief. Inside are two affidavits. The straightforward accounts are shocking in their sparse prose.

That might be because only an outsider's voice could fully capture the troubling allegations made by a Creston bartender. The affidavits were written by an investigator with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation who came to Creston to figure what happened at Crestmoor Golf Club the night of April 17 and early the next morning.

"By the early morning hours of Friday, April 18, 2008," reads the affidavit in Sickels' file, "the only patrons remaining in the bar were James Christensen and John Sickels, who had been at the bar since sometime before 10 p.m. The employee knew that Christensen and Sickels were Creston police officers."

"At approximately 2:00 a.m., Sickels requested that the employee perform oral sex on both he and Christensen. The employee refused. Christensen and Sickels then stood up, walked around the bar area and blocked her exit from the bar area. Christensen stayed near her while Sickels left and soon returned after what she believed was a(n) errand to lock the front door to the club. While Sickels was gone, the employee plead(ed) with Christensen not to do this."

"Upon his return, Sickels had sexual intercourse with the employee against her will while Christensen held her hand, stroked her hair and 'shushed' her. Before Sickels pulled her pants down and during the sex act, the employee repeatedly said to Christensen that this was wrong and he knew it was wrong."

These are not words one expects to hear about the men hired to ensure law and order in a small town. And so, when Christensen and Sickels were arrested ...

"The rumors were all over the place," said Loyal Winborn, a City Council member who belongs to Crestmoor Golf Club. "Immediately, the rumors are, 'This is commonplace.' Or, 'This never happened.' The rumors were extreme on both ends."

Winborn heard conversations where Creston residents wondered what to do if police pulled them over: Keep driving? Pull over in a public place?

"It blows your mind to hear that," said Winborn, who moved from Omaha to Creston three years ago for the small-town atmosphere. "Nobody expects this to happen in a small town. Whether it happened or not, nobody expects to even talk about this in a small town."

These things don't happen in Creston. These things don't happen anywhere. But they do and when they do, a town's leaders are called upon to patch the wound.

Up the stairs in Creston's old restored train depot sits Mayor Warren Woods. The mayor would rather talk to outsiders about the good things - that Creston's the retail hub of southwest Iowa, for example, or that Creston has a vibrant cross-section of industry, or that Creston hired its first female police officer in December in a gesture symbolic of a fresh start - than the bad things.

"How do you get over something like that? You put it in the past and move on," Woods said. "It is what it is. We know what Creston is really like. Seeing the negative views is difficult."

Putting it in the past meant firing the two officers. The City Council voted unanimously, citing the contradictory statements each officer gave to state investigators.

"I had people come up to me and say, 'You did the right thing,' " Woods said. "Obviously, people said other things, too."

The mayor paused.

"But let's not talk about that," he said, then changed the subject.
- Why not talk about it?  You protecting someone, or the town?  If this was Joe Public, you'd be talking about it all the time.

The place where something happened

There's one more place to visit in Creston. Drive past the things this town is proud of, past the vibrant uptown area with its family businesses, past the community college where a student whips his car in circles in the freshly fallen snow, past the growing Greater Regional Medical Center.

Turn into the gravel parking lot of the place where, on a chilly, drizzly night eight months before, something happened.

"CRESTMOOR GOLF CLUB, MEMBERS ONLY" reads the sign. Snow crowns the hilly fairways of the nine-hole golf course.

You cross through two modest wood columns adorned with red holiday ribbons and open the door.

They're ready for the holidays here, with Santa and Frosty gleaming in the windows and white table linens topped with Christmas centerpieces.

A middle-aged woman with blond hair and a big smile wheels in on a motorized scooter.

Are you the manager?

"I am her, I sure am," Lesha Clark replies.

What happened to a woman working at the bar here early the morning of April 18? Whatever did happen here, has it torn apart this tightly woven community? Did life at Crestmoor Golf Club change?

The warm smile disappears. Her voice becomes quiet and solemn.

"Young man," Clark says measuredly, "all I can tell you is, I'm sorry, no comment at this time."

It's time to go. You turn to leave, down the stairs and past the Christmas tree. All of a sudden Clark's voice becomes chipper. After all, this is Creston, and people would rather remind you of what's good than what's not.

"You have a safe trip back!" she shouts cheerfully, as if she's trying to convince anyone who'll listen that all is well and good here - and that anything that isn't should remain unspoken.

"Gas is cheap!" Clark continues. "You're doing great! A buck-sixty-six at Kum & Go!"

The door shuts. Her voice lingers in your ears.


UT - Economy forces state to scrimp on treatment for young sex offenders

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12/21/2008

By Steve Gehrke - The Salt Lake Tribune

Budget cuts - The state is scrapping plans for a new center and could close a long-term lockup facility.

Despite Utah's young demographics and a booming number of juvenile sex offenders, upcoming budget cuts will hit kids in trouble hard.

An expected $3 million shortfall through 2010 means fewer juvenile sex offenders will be evaluated and treated as efforts to build a new center have been scrapped. More kids will be crowded together if a long-term lockup center is closed. And funds will be chopped from a slew of community programs including one that gives police a place to take arrested juveniles if their parents can't be found right away.

"We're concerned," said Director of JJS Dan Maldonado. "Anything involving the justice community is really important, and we're a big part of that."

After 15 years of efforts to start a center to identify those juvenile sex offenders in danger of becoming predators, Juvenile Justice officials finally found a welcoming property. The budget downturn will force them to eliminate $600,000 pegged for the center and restart the process of finding land in a time when the number of young sex offenders is exploding.

In the mid- to late-1990s, an estimated 7 to 10 percent of the juvenile offender population was in for sex crimes. The number has now doubled to 20 percent, Maldonado said, and there are many more offenders among the nearly 10,000 kids taken in annually by the Department of Child and Family Services and the courts. Rob Butters, co-chair of the Utah Network on Juveniles Offending Sexually (NOJOS), said the increase is due in large part to more victims coming forward to report crimes.

Butters said Utah now has a pair of gaps in its system. In addition to losing the prospect of an assessment center, Valley Mental Health last year cut contracts providing mentally ill juvenile sex offenders much-needed psychiatric help. Without treatment alternatives, young offenders tend to land in lock-ups more often, he said.

As a clinical social worker, Butters said he once treated a 16-year-old boy who fit a fairly typical mold for young offenders -- exposure to pornography in pubescent stages and being slightly socially awkward or bored. The young man has since gone on to graduate from college, is married, has a child and plans to study law so he can help kids in similar situations.

"If you treat them, they probably won't do it again," Butters said, citing studies that show treated kids re-offend less than 10 percent of the time. "We want them to get on with their lives rather than put a scarlet letter on their forehead."

Treatment for the most common young offenders involves individual and group visits to therapy programs, but one of the major components is simply preoccupying the kids.

"There is some sex-specific treatment, but it's very much focused on all the other things going on in a kid's life," Butters said, adding that workers will often check grades or have youths attend social activities. "This new model really says all this clinical voodoo is OK, but let's really focus on helping these people live healthy, productive, happy lives. Social skills is a big part of that -- if you can't get your needs met one way, you turn to the Internet or underground deviant stuff."

If a child goes untreated, it's harder to change sexually deviant behavior in adults, Butters said.

"If we can stop this behavior now, it will save us so much money," Butters said.

But given the reality of the economy, Juvenile Justice workers know it's more likely they will lose more cash across the board in coming years.

Over the next two years, Juvenile Justice plans to eliminate $3.7 million from community programs, ranging from group homes to psychiatric hospital treatment. It will also eliminate $3 million from holding facilities, such as the Decker Lake Detention Center, which could force the department to cram twice as many juveniles into cells. Other proposed cuts include supervision and diversion programs for juveniles.

"We are very concerned about public safety first and foremost," Maldonado said. "We want to isolate sex offenders, and we spend time and energy in treating all of those kids and affording them opportunities for treatment."

Early treatment costs only a few thousand dollars, said Maldonado, and could help alleviate the heavy burden on the Department of Corrections, which pays around $30,000 per inmate each year and recently reported a growing waiting list for sex-offender treatment at its facilities.

The total number of offenders at the prisons doubled from August 1996 to August 2008, and Corrections says adult sex offenders make up 30 percent of the total inmate population. Even so, low funding means only 235 of the nearly 2,000 sex offenders imprisoned in August were receiving treatment as of November.

The young population of offenders is expected to continue to rise, posing what Maldonado called a "daunting task for the Legislature."

Cuts to social work programs that carry long-term benefits for the community concern some who warn of an "economic aftershock."

"It's when the economy is terrible and people are broke -- that's big business for social workers," Butters said. "People are desperate, but we also stop putting money into programs."


FL - Police: Suspicious wife who demands to smell husband's genitals beaten

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I wonder, since he did not consent to her doing this, will she be charged with a sex crime?  He should not have punched her, though.

12/17/2008

PORT ST. LUCIE — Police are seeking an arrest warrant for a man accused of hitting his wife after she asked to smell his penis to determine whether he was cheating with another woman, according to a police report released Wednesday.

The 37-year-old victim told investigators her husband of three years punched her face and kicked her arms and legs Monday night after she accused him of having an affair.

The victim said she told her 25-year-old husband as he used the restroom "to display his penis to her so that she can smell it," the report states.

She said she asked him to show his genital area so she could determine whether he was cheating with another woman.

As she went to sniff her husband's penis, he reportedly punched her mouth and started to kick her when she was on the floor. The husband then fled the scene.

Police saw bruises and red marks on the victim's mouth, legs and arms.

She became uncooperative when told a warrant would be filed for her husband's arrest.


UK - Man who had sex with girl, 12, admits rape but is freed after woman judge says he was 'duped' into thinking she was 19

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12/19/2008

A barman who admitted having sex with a 12-year-old girl walked free from court after convincing a judge she had tricked him into believing she was an adult.

_____, 25, met the girl through a social networking website on which she had posted pictures of herself and described herself as a 19-year-old student and single mother who enjoyed drinking and having sex.

The girl was inundated with offers from men, but only replied to _____ because he was the best looking, Leeds Crown Court was told.

They arranged to meet and went to _____'s flat where they watched TV, drank vodka and beer and smoked skunk cannabis.

_____ and the girl had ' consensual sex' four times during the overnight stay, but he admitted four counts of rape because legally a child under 13 cannot consent to sexual activity with an adult.

The girl's parents thought she was staying overnight at a friend's house and called police when she did not return home the next day.

She picked up a morning-after pill after leaving the flat at 5pm and by the time she got home her parents had found her incriminating website and she admitted the truth.

After hearing the background, Judge Jennifer Kershaw, QC, took a sympathetic view towards _____ and gave him a 12-month conditional discharge.

She said there was a 'striking' contrast-between how the girl looked in school uniform while giving video evidence to police and the image she used of herself on her website.

Explaining the sentence to the court, she said: 'I accept the defendant did not know how old this girl was. I accept he did not know she was under the age of 16, still less did he know she was in fact 12.

It seems to me that this defendant was deceived. He was deceived in a number of material respects, both beforehand and during their encounter.'

The court heard _____ contacted the girl by email, text and phone after seeing her picture and profile on her Netlog site. He messaged her to say she was 'fit' and she replied, 'You're fit as well'.

Her fake web profile said her 'favourite person' was her baby boy, she had previously worked at a care home and was now a student living with her brother. Weeks later

they arranged to meet up at Leeds bus station and went to _____'s rented flat in Headingley.

The schoolgirl told police she packed a condom in her overnight bag, but had unprotected sex with _____.

Kama Melly, defending, said the girl appeared knowledgeable about sex.

She added that _____ 'didn't notice any difference in the complainant's sexual development compared to other women he had had sexual intercourse with in the past'. The girl did not seem upset at the time and even sent _____ a text thanking him for a 'great night', the court heard.

A psychiatrist's report on _____ concluded he had no sexual interest in children and was not a paedophile.

_____ has previous convictions for being drunk and disorderly, driving over the limit, supplying cannabis resin and possessing a bladed article.

His name will be on the Sex Offenders' Register for 12 months - the minimum - and he was made the subject of a 12-month order banning him from contacting the girl.

After the case Michele Elliott, of the charity Kidscape, said she was surprised at the sentence.

'I find it hard to believe you would be fooled by a 12-year-old girl into thinking she is 19, especially if you talked to her,' she added.

She said she had 'some sympathy' with _____ if he was tricked, however that was 'tempered by the fact that all he wanted to do was jump on her, get her drunk and have sex with her'.

She added: ' There's also a message here to all parents to know what your 12-year-old daughter is doing.'


TN - More cops in Tennessee caught snooping

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12/21/2008

Lack of training, oversight leads to citizen data abuse

In 2006, the state rolled out a new crime-fighting weapon designed to give police across Tennessee quick Web access to privileged information collected on many of the state's 6 million citizens.

Driving records, photos, home addresses, Social Security numbers, car registrations and some criminal history records — all of it became available to officers from Bristol to Memphis with the ease of a mouse click.
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The law enforcement community heralded the Tennessee Criminal Justice Portal as a breakthrough that linked isolated databases and reduced search times to minutes, where they previously would take hours or sometimes days.

A Tennessean review of the history of the portal, however, shows that access was granted with little training and oversight to about 350 law enforcement agencies, creating an environment ripe for abuse.

Only after a spate of recent cases have authorities begun to roll out new ways to protect against misuse. The cases themselves have raised questions about how widely the tool is being abused.

Tennessee Highway Patrol Lt. Ronnie Shirley was fired after running checks on as many as 182 state employees and private individuals, many of them women, including country star Gretchen Wilson. Shirleycontends that what he did is commonplace among his law enforcement peers. He says that leadership refuses to look at the broad problem, and that he was singled out unfairly.

Other cases have come to light since Shirley's. On Saturday, the Metro Police Department confirmed an internal investigation is under way involving seven employees, including three officers, who also allegedly ran Wilson's name through portal checks.

Last month, a Wilson County commissioner, who was a police officer for the Smyrna/Rutherford County Airport Police, was accused of misusing the portal to check on Mt. Juliet city officials and two fellow commissioners. A state probation officer accused of running checks on neighbors also faces termination.

"These databases are designed for law enforcement personnel for law enforcement purposes," said James F. Blumstein, a professor of constitutional law at Vanderbilt University. "When they are used for other ends, it's an abuse of authority."

Those who helped create the system say the portal has received rave reviews from police across the state. Any problems are isolated cases of abuse, they say.

While the portal offers easier access to data, it also has the ability to catch those who misuse it because each search leaves a footprint traceable back to the user. In the past, abuse of information held on paper or in a file left no audit trail.

"The information itself isn't new, it's the way they can access it," said Ann Lynn Walker, an assistant director in the state's Administrative Office of the Courts, which administers the portal. "The potential for abuse, and I would suspect the abuse itself, has been occurring all along."

Information is power
- And power corrupts!


Sharing information has been a problem for police across the country. In Tennessee, the court system is decentralized among 95 counties, with their varying police and sheriff's agencies. Add the state government's various departments and disparate data centers, and the sum is a patchwork of information systems that have historically been unable to communicate.

This has led to both frustration and criticism as police have, at times, lacked tools to catch the bad guys or protect the public more effectively. The state received a $1 million grant in 2001 to try to fix the problem.

The portal was the product of this effort. It linked through the Web almost 350 agencies and 5,500 officials to the following six databases: driver's license, title and registration, Correction Department, sex offender registry, state protection orders and wanted persons.

"It's a great tool," said Nashville attorney David Raybin, who was the Tennessee Bar Association's representative on the committee that oversaw the portal's creation. "The problem with a thing like this is it has a great potential for helping and a great potential for abuse. We assumed law enforcement agencies would act responsibly in using this. Most law enforcement agencies already have variations of this."

There was an effort to encourage use of the system and to ensure crippling bureaucratic barriers were not erected. Each agency had to sign a user agreement and assign an administrator as the gatekeeper for that agency.

That administrator received over-the-phone training from Administrative Office of the Courts personnel, a process that lasted about 90 minutes, and then the agency was up and running. In the case of Wilson County Commissioner Chris Sorey, that training didn't seem to drill home the message.

Sorey was the administrator for the small Smyrna/Rutherford County Airport police force. The TBI audited his use of the portal to access information on members of the Mt. Juliet government and the County Commission. He resigned in November from the department, and the state revoked the tiny agency's access to the portal.

The idea of preventing abuse or devoting extra resources to training was not a focus during the creation of the system.

"Maybe we should have emphasized it more or made a bigger deal about it in retrospect," Raybin said. "I don't want to say it was a mistake because there is no system that you can design that is 100 percent foolproof. You can train from today until tomorrow, and at the end of the day it requires a certain amount of trust of the law enforcement officers."

Raybin said one possibility for reform would be passing a law that allows citizens to seek civil penalties, possibly as much as $10,000, against agencies that access or abuse their information. That would provide a necessary deterrent that would require individual police departments to monitor and prevent abuse.

Call for investigation

Most of the attention has focused on the Department of Safety, one of the largest departments in the state with access to the portal. Until the Shirley matter came to light in August there was no formal training for users within the agency.

Some officers signed a user agreement before logging on, but others were able to access the system without signing the user agreement or by simply checking an access agreement box online. Others received login information but were reluctant to log in because of the lack of training. Some signed the user agreement only after gaining access to the portal.

After the Shirley episode, Safety Commissioner Dave Mitchell started sending regular e-mails to remind officers of proper use and the penalties that could follow for abusing the system. Mitchell said he and Col. Mike Walker are passing along proper procedures through the command staff and to incoming cadets.

Mitchell said the department has reviewed policies related to computer usage. And a high-ranking THP officer now checks regular audits on portal usage with hopes of catching any irregularities.

Two other officers have been investigated and given written reprimands for running checks on immediate family members or ex-wives.

Mitchell, however, takes issue with any suggestion that his agency has a systemic problem.

"I've been in this profession for over 35 years," Mitchell said. "Law enforcement on a daily basis accesses data to do their job. When there's an abuse it's investigated, just like with Lieutenant Shirley, and that's the end of it. There's not systemic abuse of databases."

Shirley's attorney, Rob Briley, disagrees. He says the department has turned a blind eye to others who have may have misused the portal and doesn't want to know about possible abuse within the agency.

"If the offense is serious enough to terminate somebody then the Department of Safety ought to be very concerned about who's using it and why," Briley said. "As far as we can tell it has not undertaken any investigation to determine if people are using it inappropriately."

More oversight coming

The Metro police internal investigation came about as a result of the Shirley episode. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation reviewed prominent names that had been accessed by Shirley and found the hits by Metro employees, according to Don Aaron, a Metro police spokesman.

Three officers and four civilian employees are under investigation, Aaron said, for running nine checks on country singer Wilson from November 2006 to June 2008. He said if violations occurred disciplinary action would follow, although he would not release the names of the employees under investigation. The Police Department was informed that it was one of several agencies that had queried the singer's name, Aaron said.

TBI spokeswoman Kristin Helm said Saturday that improper checks had possibly been done on a couple of celebrities. On Saturday, she did not have access to the list of agencies that ran the queries.

Aaron said the department has 116 employees, mostly investigators and some civilians, with access to the portal. They received no formal training, other than receiving a copy of the user manual and a user agreement emphasizing the sensitive nature of the information, which they signed before gaining access.

"As a result of The Tennessean's reporting and as a result of the TBI offline check, the message is out loud and clear that computer queries to satisfy curiosity should not be occurring," he said. "To a great extent all the publicity, and certainly now our Police Department's internal investigation, is going to do quite a bit to ingrain that message."

Aaron said the problems shouldn't overshadow the fact that police use the portal and other data for legitimate police purposes each day, and that such information is vital to carrying out the mission of public safety.

"The portal has the capability of providing information that may be needed in an investigation very quickly without an investigator having to pick up the phone and call other agencies," Aaron said.

As a result of the myriad of problems, the state required Metro officers, along with the 5,500 other portal users statewide, to sign new user agreement addendums due Monday, outlining more clearly the rules and the penalties for abusing the system. If agencies fail to sign this new addendum they will lose access to the portal.

It's one of the steps the portal's steering committee is taking in the wake of the problems. The Administrative Office of the Courts will begin early next year providing monthly audit reports telling each agency about its officers' use of the portal, which officialshope will provide more oversight.

Also, a subcommittee has been created to search for other ways to improve the system. TBI sits on the committee and plans to provide one of its database auditors to assist in finding solutions.

Brad Truitt, TBI's information systems director, said the portal's ease of use is the beauty of the system, but perhaps, in retrospect, that is part of its problem. He said creators of the portal believed police had been accessing various types of sensitive data for years. For those who needed a refresher, the user agreement spelled out the rules.

"They should know what data this is and what the requirements are," he said. "What parts of it are sensitive and not. ... Obviously we've got some issues."

Brad Schrade can be reached at 615-259-8086 or bschrade@tennessean.com.