Dozens of database misuse cases reported by Ohio authorities

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Officers in Ohio were fired, suspended or otherwise disciplined more than 70 times between 2013 and 2015 for misusing confidential law enforcement databases, according to an Associated Press tally of records provided by the Ohio Highway Patrol and the state Attorney General.

The violations largely concerned the state’s Law Enforcement Automated Data System, or LEADS. That system is the criminal justice information network for law enforcement agencies and is administered by the superintendent of the Highway Patrol.

The Associated Press counted instances in which officers used the database to look up information on others but also some in which officers looked themselves up, used the system for strictly personal purposes or shared information without authorization.

The records produced to the AP by the Highway Patrol do not include the names of the disciplined officers, but some of the violations received publicity because they led to criminal charges.

Those include the case of a North Olmsted police officer who looked up the landlord of a female friend and was accused of showing up in the middle of the night to demand the return of money he said was owed to her. That officer, Brian Bielozer, reached a plea agreement with the Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office this year.

Other cases reported by the state include a Shaker Heights police corporal found to have looked up the Social Security number of his estranged wife; a Clinton County sheriff’s deputy accused of researching his daughter’s boyfriend; a Reynoldsburg police officer who searched for warrants for himself, and a Toledo police officer who obtained information on his ex-wife’s new boyfriend and was later accused of making a traffic stop of the man’s brother.

In addition, according to Highway Patrol records, a Franklin County sheriff’s deputy used the LEADS system to obtain information on relatives engaged in a child custody dispute, and an Ashtabula County sheriff’s office dispatcher was accused of searching on a fellow employee for non-law enforcement purposes.

The attorney general’s office released a handful of other cases involving misuse of a system known as the Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway, an electronic information network. Those include an Akron police officer, Eric Paull, who was sentenced to prison last year in a stalking case involving an ex-girlfriend that also involved misuse of the OHLEG system.

More broadly, the AP’s review showed that officers across the country have misused law enforcement databases hundreds of times to look up information on ex-romantic partners, relatives, celebrities and others.