Access to database for police to fight crime has been shut off

Aug 19, 2019, 11:59 AM | Updated: 1:17 pm
king county sheriff...
(King County Sheriff's Office, Facebook)
(King County Sheriff's Office, Facebook)

Many within King County Sheriff’s Office say the use of LInX is a critical tool in their toolbox. Which is why cops are up in arms over that tool being taken away last week. The Seattle Police Department also lost LInX.

LInX is a database designed and managed by the U.S. military for participating law enforcement agencies across local, state and federal jurisdictions to share data.

The Northwest LInX Regional Program Manager sent an email on Wednesday informing all within the King County Sheriff’s Office that “…your agency leadership has informed the LInX Program Management team that because of county ordinance, for the foreseeable future, KCSO can no longer share records in LInX, which is not in holding with the LInX MOU. Therefore, all KCSO user accounts will have to be disabled, denying access to law enforcement information sharing.”

One employee with the King County Sheriff’s Office says they believe access to the database is being denied because King County doesn’t want Immigration and Customs Enforcement to have access to the information.

“Apparently this decision is related to the sanctuary city ordinance, but we only found out about it when the LInX admin sent this notice out to all users,” the employee told KIRO Radio.

Another employee with the King County Sheriff’s Office says the LInX database is critical to the work they do and since the database has been shut down, the Major Crimes department is in mayhem.

“LInX is a tool used by Law Enforcement to help with investigations, without it we have zero other tools. There is concern about how this will effect public safety. As far as immigration status on LInX that is never taken into account or even looked at because it has no baring on a criminal case.”

The database is vast and extremely helpful because all agencies add their case reports to LInX, according to the employees.

“Another example of how we use it,” the employee wrote. “We have someone’s name but no phone number. We type in their name and the phone number they last provided to any agency and more times than not it works. When someone is barricaded in their house and the SWAT team is outside it’s important we can call the person.”

The day following the LInX closure, Undersheriff Scott Somers sent an email to employees explaining that the Sheriff’s Office tried to work with LInX and Homeland Security to develop firewalls that would prevent ICE from accessing information.  ICE agents having access to non-public information collected by law enforcement agencies, is in violation of a King County ordinance.

“We could not reach a solution that insured that the civil immigration functions would not have access, especially when viewed from a national level,” Somers said in the email. “We had no alternative other than to terminate our membership and information sharing with LInX. This included the removal of all of our information from their system. Agency access to LInX was cut off per the agreement.”

Sean Whitcomb from the Seattle Police Department confirmed that the LInX was recently shut down for their officers to use. He said he couldn’t discuss the reason at the moment, but that SPD is having internal business discussions about this issue.

The King County Sheriff’s Office has not responded to requests for comment regarding the reason LInX was shut down.

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Access to database for police to fight crime has been shut off