HOUSTON – On Monday, Houston police officers found themselves shut out of a law enforcement database called the Consolidated Criminal History Database.
It’s administered by Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg’s office.
When they siged on, the officers found a message saying the site was closed to them for maintenance, and that the DA’s office is reviewing its memo of understanding with HPD.
It came three days after a contentious meeting between the DA and her staff, and police union officials, who now contend the shutout is retaliation by DA Kim Ogg.
“No one else in law enforcement in Harris County has been locked out of this system with the exception of the Houston Police Department. That’s kind of a coincidence to me, don’t you think?” HPOU president Joe Gamaldi said.
The DA's office said it not about politics, but rather security.
JoAnne Musick, felony trial division chief with the DA’s office, said there have been several CCH system security breaches in recent weeks that were traced to HPD computers.
“We’ve been in contact with the chief of police. And we’re working on a collaborative effort to share our information. There are security concerns and there have been security issues with our database and our information and we’re addressing that with the chief of police," Musick said.
Sheri Cortez is an interested observer of the dispute. She said she's not happy with the way the situation was handled, and exchanged emails with Ogg airing her concerns.
One year ago today, Sheri’s husband Ronny, a Houston officer, was shot and disabled by a burglary suspect. Afterward, she says the DA assured her then there would be closer cooperation between law enforcement agencies on her watch.
“I was promised this was going to stop and there would be a better partnership with law enforcement to stop these things from happening. And this is not a way forward, we’re going backwards,” Cortez said.
Musick said it's being worked out and that security concerns about the system should be resolved soon.
"It’s never a good thing to have adversarial relationships in any field but this is between the Police Department and the district attorney's office. The union is not a party to the access for this information," she said.