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In general, that's probably the right decision. But I also think that using police records for personal purposes is different from browsing Facebook at work.

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.

This is true, but the correct response would probably be to criminalise abuse of police records specifically, rather than criminalising general organisation policy breaches.

There must be different statutes to charge under. That cop infringed the civil liberties of the persons who came up in the search at a minimum.

Yeah, I find it weird that they used CFAA. Maybe that law carries harsher penalties than the others.

Perhaps it is an example of prosecutorial overreach, and I wonder if the judges' ruling is, in part, intended to make a stand on that issue.

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.

Its gross misconduct and in the uk Malfeasance in office (surely there is an equivalent law in the USA.

And doesn't the US equivalent of the official secrets act apply to all police officers?

Doesn't the UK Official Secrets Act apply to matters of national security? The closest U.S. equivalent is the Espionage Act of 1917. Records from a city's criminal database are not national security secrets.

The OS act applies to a lot of things all list X organisations for example and in the UK all police answer to the home secretary.

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.

In the US, seemingly, no laws apply to police officers.

Agreed properly regulating police (ie only allowing state police and federal ) and enforcing strict vetting would go a long way to solving some of the problems with the police in the USA.

The vast majority of cops are honest and do the right thing. Cops are human, it's unrealistic to think that Federal cops or State cops can be better than local by virtue of regulation. You cannot regulate away the flaws in human nature. The best you can do is detect them and deal with them when they cause problems. I've seen no evidence that the Feds or State police agencies are any better at this than city or county organizations are.

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.

Until the Ferguson outrage at least, a cop who did the wrong thing could expect to face, at maximum, a paid vacation as punishment. Maybe he would be "banished" to a nice cushy desk job upon his return to active duty.

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.

Having to pass proper vetting as in the UK would weed out some bad apples at the start and moving to \ single police body for a state would both improve the police and remove a lot of wasted tax payers money.

It should be a police disciplinary action, and there should be a policy in place to review database access on a regular basis.

Indeed - I was thinking how convenient this is for the NSA and FBI.

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