Local News

ACLU: Highway Patrol should limit request for cell phone records

Posted July 21, 2010 10:02 a.m. EDT

— 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)."