Officers ask judge to protect personal phone records following leaked crime scene photo

Print
Email
|

by Maggie Crane

KMOV.com

Posted on March 25, 2011 at 9:16 PM

Updated Friday, Mar 25 at 10:32 PM

ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- St. Louis police are asking a judge to protect their personal phone records.

This follows the outrage over a leaked crime scene photo.  A St. Louis police officer has admitted to taking a picture of Carlos Boles' dead body.  Boles shot two U.S. Marshals and a city police officer earlier this month.  The photo made its way to several citizens and even to News 4.

Police in this petition say this isn't a criminal investigation, so they're asking for the same rights as everyone else:  A right to privacy on their private cell phones.

"We have a witch hunt," Jeff Roorda, business manager for the St. Louis Police Officers Association (SLPOA), said.

SLPOA claims internal affairs is going too far by asking for officers' cell phone records and threatening termination if they don't comply.

"These are police officers the department has singled out as being under suspicion," Roorda said.

They're under scrutiny for allegedly leaking a photo of the bloody, bullet-riddled body of Carlos Boles.  Police won't comment on the open investigation but tell me that the department is seeking every officer who forwarded the image.  The chief says it was inappropriate and unacceptable.

"At no time have they explained what policy forwarding that picture violates," Roorda said.

While Roorda agrees that forwarding the photo was in poor taste, he says it is not a crime.

The cell phones do not belong to the department nor does the department pay for them.

"In one case the officer doesn't even own the phone -- it's his wife's, and in another case, it's the officer's mother," Roorda said.

And that's why police are now asking a judge to decide what's legal.  If a judge does not grant an injunction by Monday, the officers in question must give internal affairs a history of their picture messages.  Officers say the department is attacking their fourth amendment right, which guards against unreasonable searches and seizures.

"It's awful for morale," Roorda said.  "To come into work and to know that your administration doesn't have your back, doesn't think that you have the same rights as every criminal out there has."

Print
Email
|