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A Times Editorial

Dana Summers | Tribune Media Services

Editorial: Clearwater officer should be fired for snooping

When a police department doesn't remove an officer who violates the public trust, it reflects badly on the entire force and the department's leadership. Clearwater police commander Lt. Richard Crean, 46, invaded the privacy of more than 50 people through a statewide database, particularly focusing on younger women. He compounded this bad judgment by offering the lame explanation that he wasn't given database privacy training or direction. Yet a relatively light punishment has been recommended for Crean when he should no longer remain on the job.

The internal affairs findings against Crean are, in a word, creepy. He used his access to the Florida Driver and Vehicle Information Database, known as DAVID, to look up information on people including his ex-wife, his ex-wife's boyfriend, the wives of other police officers, celebrities such as former professional tennis player Anna Kournikova, and a server at a Clearwater bar whom he looked up 14 times. People he targeted tended to be female between the ages of 24 and 33.

Crean couldn't give internal affairs investigators valid job-related reasons for the searches into a database that contained photographs, birth dates, home addresses and Social Security numbers in addition to driver information. Many of these searches were performed when not on duty, according to the internal affairs report.

The Clearwater Police Department's command staff has recommended only that Crean be demoted to sergeant and suspended for five days — a sanction with which Chief Tony Holloway agrees. That's not tough enough, and it sends the wrong message to the police force and to the public.

Editorial: Clearwater officer should be fired for snooping 05/20/13 [Last modified: Monday, May 20, 2013 7:15pm]
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