Wichita, Kansas. (KWCH) – After a Kechi police lieutenant was arrested for using the Wichita Police Department’s (WPD) FLOCK license plate reader system to track down his estranged wife, FactFinder 12 wants to know who has access to the system.
Technically, citizens are monitored by the system any time they are driven by a FLOCK camera. The cameras are supposed to help law enforcement find criminals, recover stolen property or find missing or endangered people.
If someone’s vehicle is stolen and reported to the police, if the vehicle passes by the FLOCK camera, it will alert the police to the last known location. The system will continue to track the vehicle as it passes other FLOCK cameras. However, this means that other people driving at the same time as the stolen vehicle will also be caught by the cameras.
WPD said the video is kept for 30 days and can only be used for investigative purposes. Investigators said the Kechi police lieutenant had no legal reason to track where his estranged wife was driving.
“I received a call from another officer concerned about the misuse of the FLOCK system,” said Lt. Casey Slaughter, WPD FLOCK administrator. “I looked up network audits because FLOCK keeps an audit trail for every keystroke of everything I look up on the system. I found that, sure enough, the guy who worked at the Kechi police station, checked some things he shouldn’t have something to check.”
Slaughter said the WPD said officers should only use the FLOCK system to assist in investigations, but that is only WPD policy. Kansas has no state law regarding the FLOCK system. Max Kautsch, president of the Kansas Open Government Coalition, said there should be laws preventing officials from using the system for personal reasons.
“What’s really disappointing is that all the other states that have these laws have these restrictions in place, but Kansas doesn’t. Now we’re seeing what happens. So license readers, it’s a way we can in privacy with that particular Technology that switches back and forth between technology’s law enforcement interests,” Kautsch said. “The statute authorizing its use in Kansas is inconsistent with other statutes in this country, with greater potential for abuse, and we’re seeing that here.”
FactFinder 12 asked WPD after the incident what changes could be made to the policy to ensure officials cannot use the system for personal use.
“We state through our annual policy that we can always do something to make things better. If there’s any silver lining to this whole thing, it’s that it shows everyone inside and outside our department that if you abuse this FLOCK system , that’s what happens,” Slaughter said. “You could get caught, you could go to jail, you could lose your job, which in my opinion probably should. It’s a powerful system, and in the words of the Spider-Man movies, with great power comes great responsibility. “
Slaughter said he would like to help create laws to prevent misuse of the FLOCK system.
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