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Published: Tuesday, 10/28/2008

Police probe over employee pulling plumber's data nears end

BLADE STAFF

An internal investigation into why a civilian member of the Toledo Police Department used a city computer to access personal information about "Joe the Plumber" is expected to be completed today, Chief Mike Navarre said.

The chief declined to release the name of the employee until the investigation is complete.

He said the person has been interviewed regarding the incident.

Samuel "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher, a resident of Springfield Township, was thrust into the national spotlight on Oct. 15 when Republican presidential candidate John McCain mentioned him frequently during the final presidential debate with Democratic nominee Barack Obama.

Mr. Wurzelbacher's driver's license and vehicle registration information was accessed within 48 hours after the debate.

Toledo police received a call Friday from the Ohio Highway Patrol asking them to explain why it pulled Mr. Wurzelbacher's information.

Chief Navarre declined to release specifics of why the information was accessed, but confirmed it was not for law enforcement purposes.

Mayor Carty Finkbeiner said yesterday the employee pulled the information for a member of the news media.

The mayor said he was unsure what information the media requested and what was shared with them. He expects to know more today.

"We will take action if any information was shared that should not be shared," Mr. Finkbeiner said.

Chief Navarre said the employee violated department policy by looking up the information through an automated database system other than for law enforcement purposes.

"It does not appear this was accessed for law enforcement purposes. That's why it's a violation of policy," he said.

He said driving records and vehicle registrations are considered public records and can be obtained from the state for a fee.



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