One only damages the employer slightly, the other has huge potential issues against society at large. The CFAA is not the correct solution for this issue, but none the less, I think such behavior should be a criminal matter.
FWIW (and IANAL), I would have preferred to see this person charged only for the unauthorized data access, with his purpose taken into consideration (negatively) in sentencing.
And doesn't the US equivalent of the official secrets act apply to all police officers?
All police and civilian police workers are vetted and access to Police databases etc is covered by the OS act.
Even access to say BT's databases that track phone numbers and circuits is covered.
The one advantage they might have is different command structures. The state police are ultimately reporting to the governor, not a mayor so there might be fewer ways for a local political structure to use its police force improperly. But not sure that would really work in practice; it would likely just move the problem elsewhere.
Cops protect their own. Thin blue line and all that. But this sort of thing is what enabled sex scandals to run unchecked within the Catholic Church and if we let the constabulary get away with it, the public consequences could be far worse.