Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Public safety

Clearwater officer accused of misusing database forced to retire

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CLEARWATER — A longtime Clearwater police supervisor retired Monday as he was about to be fired for improperly using a law enforcement database and lying about it, authorities said.

Sgt. Richard Crean, 46, was previously demoted and suspended in May for using the database more than 100 times over two years for questionable purposes. Investigators said the former lieutenant inappropriately looked up personal information about people, including his ex-wife's boyfriend, a television news reporter and the wives of other police officers.

Clearwater police officials decided last week to fire Crean in a separate case involving his use of the Florida Driver and Vehicle Information Database, commonly called DAVID.

"He would have been terminated," said Clearwater spokeswoman Joelle Castelli. "He retired before the administrative process could be completed."

He will receive full retirement benefits.

Officials say Crean used the database to look up a car's license tag number for a woman he knew who was going through a messy divorce. Then he sent her two photos from his cellphone showing a computer screen displaying another woman's personal information, internal investigators said.

At a hearing last month, Crean told police Chief Tony Holloway he looked up that tag number and others for a legitimate law enforcement purpose, but other officers didn't back up his version of events.

Crean, a 21-year veteran officer, could not be reached for comment Monday.

Until recently, he had a successful career in Clearwater. He won the 2011 Public Safety and Service Award from the Rotary Club of Clearwater for community involvement. Last year, he was promoted to lieutenant and supervised one of the city's patrol districts. But in May, he was demoted to sergeant.

The DAVID system contains information about drivers registered in Florida, including home addresses, photographs, Social Security numbers, birth dates and vehicle descriptions.

Crean was accused of improperly using the state database last year to help a Palm Harbor woman seeking information about her estranged husband.

In that case, South Pasadena resident Kim Harwell, 53, told authorities that Crean gave personal information he obtained about her — including her name, address and date of birth — to Laura McLynas of Palm Harbor. McLynas had given Crean Harwell's license plate number, which he then ran through the state law enforcement database, Harwell told police.

Harwell has no criminal record in Florida and was not the subject of an active police investigation. She says she was targeted because she's a friend of McLynas' estranged husband, James McLynas.

James McLynas told investigators that Crean and Laura McLynas were in a relationship. Crean and Laura McLynas denied this.

In a statement to internal investigators, Crean said he "never really received any formal training" on the state database.

Mike Brassfield can be reached at (727) 445-4151 or [email protected]

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