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ACLU: Highway Patrol should limit request for cell phone records

Posted July 21, 2010

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— The American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday asked leaders of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol to scale back their proposal to obtain the personal cell phone bills of state troopers.

The Highway Patrol last week said it was considering a policy to require troopers to obtain authorization to carry personal cell phones while on duty and to turn over their monthly bill if given such permission. Officials said they want to ensure troopers aren't spending too much time talking and texting on their personal phones while on the job.

The policy is part of ethics reforms coming after a series of embarrassing episodes involving troopers' misconduct. In one case, the Highway Patrol's longtime spokesman resigned amid an internal investigation in which he sent flirtatious text messages to his secretary.

Jennifer Rudinger, executive director of the ACLU of North Carolina, sent a letter to patrol commander Col. Randy Glover asking that troopers be given the option of removing information about whom they're calling before submitting their monthly bills.

"In order to ascertain whether an employee is spending too much work time on personal calls, the (Highway Patrol) needs only to review the date, time and duration of the personal calls," Rudinger wrote. "Allowing employees the option to redact information such as the phone numbers being called and the locations/cities being called from their records would go a long way toward preventing any invasions of privacy and would demonstrate to the public a show of good faith on the part of the (Highway Patrol)."

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  • RonnieR Jul 21, 2010

    wcnc, every agency has a station. The 911 center is a separate outfit. For a Patrolman, the District office would be the place to call or troop radio after hours. For a policeman, the the station house, for a deputy the Sheriff's office or the jail, if after hours.

  • forjustice Jul 21, 2010

    cleatus- I see you have fallen for Bev's 99.9%. If you think that only 1/10 of 1% of troopers mess up then you are mistaken. These are just a few of the cases that exposure. Glover realized that he opened Pandora's box by airing laundry. Had he handled the earlier cases like the colonel's before him then he would still be in command. Instead he decided to expose his employees, well some of them. The troopers knew his past and got tired of he and Bev professing their ethical high ground close to God. You would have never heard about his affair, Capt. Williams or Major Clendenin had he not treated his employees like he did. I know this for a fact because there are violations by supervisors not reported to the media. Call him and ask him for yourself. PIO Sgt Gordon can verify this, he just wont tell you the names or violations, now they realize it was a mistake to be a hypocrite. Everybody makes mistakes, he did and was given a chance, now he decides others cant recover and fires them.

  • wcnc Jul 21, 2010

    "For those wondering how a LEO would be contacted by family in an emergency, it would work the way it did back in the pre cell phone days when I was working. The family member calls the station and tells the one that answers the phone that there is an emergency and LEO so and so needs to contact home. LEO so and so is called on the radio and is given the message. "

    And as I said, these days there really aren't any "stations" so the number family members would call is Dispatch, meaning that your 911 call could take longer to answer because dispatchers are answering their non emergency line so I can ask them to contact my husband so he can call home.... and then he can drive for 10 minutes or more to find a phone to call home...yes, that is a VERY good use of time.... (sarcasm)

  • lroyal10900 Jul 21, 2010

    This use to be policy years ago...and the troopers never batted an eye about it then. Why all the uproar now??

  • RonnieR Jul 21, 2010

    For those wondering how a LEO would be contacted by family in an emergency, it would work the way it did back in the pre cell phone days when I was working. The family member calls the station and tells the one that answers the phone that there is an emergency and LEO so and so needs to contact home. LEO so and so is called on the radio and is given the message. Worked well for years. If NCSHP wants the patrolmen to have landline access they can do it by activating that feature on their VIPER radios and problem solved. Heck, even when I was working for the State, we had frequencies that we could switch to in the 45 Mc range and make half duplex phone calls and there still maybe that capacity.

  • Cleatus Jul 21, 2010

    When will the knee jerking stop? Are these men and women not afforded the same right to privacy as all other Americans? The Highway Patrol will always have people in their organization that will make bad decisions just as every other organization will have those same type of people. At least when someone within the HP screws up they get rid of them, unlike other places who will just move them somewhere else and wait for them to screw up again and again. I say this to all the State Troopers out there, keep doing the job that 99.99% of you are doing. There are those of us who believe you do the people of this state a great service.

  • grimreaper Jul 21, 2010

    Sorry, you are working. You cannot be productive if you are addicted to your phone. I could see limiting this activity.

  • clpt83 Jul 21, 2010

    This would be a COMPLETE violation of their privacy!! Get real!! You tell me what other state agencies requires an employee to turn over their personal cell phone records....exactly!! This is an absolute WITCH HUNT!!! Leave these poor men and women alone!!!!!!

  • finwearer Jul 21, 2010

    thekittybees... you apparently live in a glass house.

    People in law enforcement are not afforded the luxury of simply 'putting in 8 hours, going home, and that's the end'.

    With God's help, may you never be on the receiving end of needing/expecting immediate assistance from law enforcement simply because when, or if, you do... you will immediately see just how crippled they've become due to the attitude of folks like you.

    I hope you don't find yourself having to wait an inordinate amount of time for assistance because the officer had to drive to a phone to attend to work-related business while you were stranded.

    Guess well hear from you again then, huh?

  • wcnc Jul 21, 2010

    "Does anyone commenting here remember a time when we were not available by telephone 24/7? What is so wrong with not be constantly attached to a cell phone?"

    But think about this....if your spouse works in an office (pre cell phone years), how did you get in touch with him? You called his office phone. If your spouse is a patrol officer, how do you get in touch with him (pre cell phone)? You have to call the non-emergency dispatch number.....wasting the time of dispatchers who should be answering 911 calls. So, having cell phone access for patrol officers is helpful in not tying up other resources, but also for them to do their job.

    I don't understand this knee jerk reaction to a few SHP making mistakes. And I don't understand how the State can think that requiring cell phone bills is NOT an invasion of privacy!

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