(February 23, 2017) Townsend police staff led a background check on a person applying for a job without authorization, according to a report on Tuesday. The statement was released at a busy Board of Selectmen, which left several questions answered, but a lot more not answered.
Compiled by Acting Commissioner of the Department of Criminal Justice Information James Slater, they found out that in September of last year, several police staff did a background check and gained access to the Board of Probation record without official criminal justice purpose. In the same report, the other uses of the system by the involved police employees have been proper.
At a Tuesday’s meeting, the town officials released the report. The meeting took place in the Great Hall to give way to nearly 200 residents attending. Last week, a meeting was also set, but the crowd was too big to fit in the chambers of the selectmen, ultimately making way for the meeting to be cancelled. This angered residents wanting to find answers related to the police investigation that has been ongoing since the later part of 2016.
Personal Information Compromised?
The residents who have attended the meeting were primarily concerned about the town’s capability to handle such situation, and further elaborated that the Police Department had been unreasonably targeted. The town’s legal counsel, David Jenkins, conducted a presentation, providing updates about the investigation and then gave way for questions.
The report that has been released on Tuesday suggests that a background check done by the Townsend police last September was not authorized. It did not have a legitimate purpose. The police employees involved decided to obtain records of a particular person who was being hired as an administrative assistant for the town’s local government. The records were pulled out from the Board of Probation records. As part of the process, the staff accessed the records of the Board of Probation.
On Tuesday, Jim Kreidler, the town administrator, said that a CORI check had been fulfilled for the employee. The CORI check is basically done for new workers and hires. He further said that the Board of Probation records is outside of what they legally could have asked for. Moreover, the report also suggests that Townsend uses a “robo query” program. This program makes use of a piece of information, like a license plate, which generates up to seven CJIS queries at a time.
Many residents who have attended the town’s investigation on Tuesday called it a “witch hunt”. Joe Shank, who is helping the petitions be organized said he does not feel that the Board of Selectmen are reputable and honest.