Cop awarded $585K after colleagues snooped on her via license database

Human Rights Watch estimates that since 2009, there have been at least 14 federal lawsuits filed over cops’ misuse of their access to personal data – think state driver’s license databases – to snoop on fellow officers, public safety personnel, and justice professionals.

Others put the number far higher: in Minnesota alone, there have been dozens of these suits.

On Wednesday, a rare win in one of those cases happened when a jury awarded Minnesota police officer Amy Krekelberg $585,000, including $300,000 in punitive damages from two defendants who pawed through her personal data to ogle her photograph, address, age, height, and weight after she allegedly rejected their romantic advances, according to court documents.

According to Wired, two of Krekelberg’s lawyers, Sonia Miller-Van Oort and Jonathan Strauss, say that their client suffered…

…harassment from her colleagues for years as the case proceeded, and that in at least one instance, other cops refused to provide Krekelberg with backup support. She now works a desk job.

Not her first win

This isn’t Krekelberg’s first court win. In 2017, the city of St. Paul, Minnesota, awarded her $29,500 over charges of snooping. In fact, Krekelberg’s federal lawsuit initially named officers and employees from more than 40 law enforcement agencies and entities in Minnesota, saying they accessed her private information nearly 1,000 times from 2003 to 2013.

Krekelberg alleged that 58 fellow officers from the Minneapolis Police Department broke a federal privacy law by searching for her driver’s license data without any reason. She had never been under investigation for any crime. According to Human Rights Watch, Krekelberg’s attorneys “portrayed the searches for her data as a failure by officers to respect a female colleague and part of a broader climate of hostility and harassment toward female officers.”

As Human Rights Watch notes, the federal Civil Rights Act prohibits sex discrimination, however, the relevant law in Krekelberg’s case is Minnesota’s Driver Privacy Protection Act, which, according to Minnesota Lawyer, has resulted in a “staggering” number of privacy lawsuits filed against Minnesota cities, counties, agencies, named police officers and John Does for abusing the state’s driver’s license database to snoop on people, allegedly without legitimate reason.

from Naked Security – Sophos