Police Dept. Mistakenly Posts Social Security Numbers

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(Photo Credit: MGN Online)

By Hillary Federico/CTNow

SIMSBURY, Conn. (CTNow) — The personal information of several area residents — including addresses and Social Security numbers — was mistakenly posted on the police department’s website this weekend and remained there for about two days, town officials said Monday.

“It was a mistake, but we still take it very seriously,” said Police Chief Peter Ingvertsen. “It was an oversight and we will be writing letters to the individuals whose Social Security numbers were divulged.”

Four people, some from towns other than Simsbury, were affected. Their Social Security numbers were posted to the police department’s online arrest log on Friday, along with their names, ages, full addresses, race and gender.

The mistake was brought to the department’s attention Sunday morning by George Gombossy, the editor and publisher of CtWatchdog.com, an online consumer website. Police removed the Social Security numbers and reposted the corrected arrest log on Monday morning.

Personal information, which is commonly obtained for law enforcement purposes during an arrest, is entered into a private database for authorized Simsbury police personnel, Ingvertsen said. The arrest logs, which are handled by the department’s records unit, were incorrectly posted to the website by an employee who was filling in for the person regularly charged with handling that task, he said.

Instead of posting the media version of the arrest log, the employee posted the private law enforcement information and no one double-checked it, Ingvertsen said. Between the time the arrest log was posted on Friday to the time it was taken down on Sunday, the page received 20 page views, he said.

The Simsbury Police Department, like many other departments throughout the state, posts its arrest logs online and has been doing so weekly for the last year.

According to First Selectwoman Mary Glassman, the police department is already looking to implement additional staff training and other procedural changes, such as reviewing arrest logs before they are posted, in the wake of the incident.

“We’re grateful this was brought to our attention,” she said. “Chief Ingvertsen and the department are taking steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

Ingvertsen would not disclose whether any action will be taken against the employee who made the mistake saying he cannot comment on personnel matters.

State law requires private citizens, companies and town governments with access to personal information, including social security numbers, to safeguard the data.

The law also requires anyone whose job requires him to collect Social Security numbers to create a privacy protection policy that must be published or publicly displayed, which includes posting it on the Internet. The policy must ensure confidentiality of social security numbers, prohibit their unlawful disclosure, and limit access to them.