Why weren't documents shredded? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Why weren't documents shredded?

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

October 17, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Did the Albany Police Department break the law when sensitive police documents weren't shredded, rather tossed away in garbage bags behind a Dawson Road business?

Georgia law says, anything you can't find in the phone book can't merely be discarded, but must be shredded. Friday a business owner found police reports, containing names and social security numbers, dumped in the dumpster behind an Albany business.

Albany Police Chief James Younger vowed to investigate why this information that can be used in identity theft was not protected.

It may look like trash, but inside the three white garbage bags and scattered throughout the dumpster is sensitive police information. Documents with victims and suspects names and social security numbers in a business dumpster along Dawson Road. Now Albany Police want to know how it got there?

"That's what we're working on right now just trying to figure out how they got there and who might have placed them there," said Phyllis Banks Whitley, APD Media Manager.

A business owner alerted police to the documents mid-day Friday. Albany Police say it violates the department's policy to shred documents with personal information and it violates Georgia law that requires them to be properly destroyed.

"Sensitive information like that, our policy is to shred those type of documents. We have shredders throughout the department and we also contract with a company that comes by an picks up the shredded documents and disposes of it," said Banks-Whitley.

Chief James Younger is now making sure his staff knows what happened and that proper procedures are followed in the future.

"Chief Younger is adamant about determining how this information ended up in that dumpster," said Banks-Whitley.

Several officer's names were found on the documents and so the internal investigation continues to determine how this important information was handled improperly.

As a matter of practice, police reports include the social security numbers of anyone who gives them information whether it be an auto accident or criminal case. Albany Police believe the report and information found in the dumpster was not from active investigation, but rather cases that have been cleared. They could not say Friday what action might be taken against the person responsible for the improperly disposed documents.

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