By Christie Post - email
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) – The Sheriff's Department can now look through Lubbock Power and Light's records to find wanted felons.
Monday, the Commissioner's Court approved an intralocal agreement between the City of Lubbock, Lubbock County and Lubbock Power and Light. This gives Sheriff's Deputies access to certain portions of the utility database for legitimate law enforcement purposes.
"The agreement would allow the Sheriff's Department to go to LP&L go on their computer and be able to look up an individual's name. Everybody needs electricity and water," says Lubbock County Commissioner, Bill McCay.
Since most people have electric, water and sewage utilities, law enforcement says they will use the customer database only for addresses to track down people under investigation easier.
"Those addresses are to verify information that we have and hopefully eliminate bad addresses that we have so we may be more efficient in our investigations," says Chief Deputy Scott
The Sheriff's office says they use several different databases to track down people with potential outstanding warrants. They plan to use this tool for the same purpose of matching addresses to names. "It will certainly allow us to be more expedient in our capture of wanted subjects and verifying addresses of people who are under investigation," says Lubbock County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Cody Scott.
But the American Civil Liberties Union says the Sheriff's Department will need a warrant in order for this to be constitutional. "A search under the constitution is illegal without a warrant. So if they have a warrant that would be fine, but just going into that database just because they want to that would seem to be very iffy constitutionally," says ACLU Vice-President, Harvey Madison.
A Lubbock civil rights lawyer, Fernando Bustos says it's a grey area when it comes to privacy rights. He says if you can submit a Freedom of Information Act request to get public data there isn't a privacy concern. However, LP&L holds private records therefore the Lubbock County Sheriffs Department will need a warrant to look up any LP&L customers to not violate any civil rights.
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