Police Must Abide By the Law When Working as a P.I.


An article by Beacon Journal Staff writer, Phil Trexler, shows what happens when a Police Officer oversteps his/her authority.

We have seen many such cases over the years – usually invloving a security company with a contact inside a Police Department. Police databases and systems that allow them to run a National Criminal Records check on an individual or access license plate information is only for OFFICIAL Police use.

When a civilian conspires with an Officer to obtain this confidential information, both parties face felony prosecution and jail. In the case of Sgt. Gary Webb, a 20 year veteran of the Akron Police Department, he undertook a private investigation assignment and used State Law Enforcement databases for his part-time work.

We are always warning clients to be wary of conducting any investigation that involves unethical or illegal means. The information obtained is considered “Fruits of the poison tree” and therefore inadmissble as evidence.

This also applies to information which has been illegally obtained by a Police Officer. The injured families in this case may very well sue the local school district which hired Sgt. Webb. The Police Sgt., who has since resigned, is most definitely liable and possibly the Police Department for which he worked.

Clients should always do their due diligence when hiring an investigator or a security company in general. Savvy clients should ask how they intend conducting the investigation and the calibre of their investigators. If they seem to have something to hide – find a company who is transparent and ethical.

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