WHEN YOU WRITE A LETTER TO THE EDITOR, YOU NEVER KNOW WHO'S READING
An interesting story from the AP in this morning's Lakeland Ledger about a woman who wrote a scathing letter to the editor of the Orlando Sentinel to blast the Orange County Sheriff's Office for their use of Taser stun guns...and also called Sheriff Kevin Beary as "too overweight and out of shape" to subdue subjects with a Taser.
Seems as though the sheriff saw the letter, and responded to her personally.
"I recently read your slanderous remarks about the Orange County Sheriff's Office in the Orlando Sentinel," Beary wrote Gawronski on March 23. "It is unfortunate that people ridicule others without arming themselves with the facts before they slander a law enforcement agency or individual."
Problem is, he apparantly got her address by searching the state's driver license database, which is illegal by state law except for clear law enforcement purposes. The sheriff's office claims that Beary's use of the database was within his official duties, as he was responding to a resident's concern.
Seems that may be correct, if the sheriff were seriously attempting to reconcile the resident's concern. But clearly, that was not the case...he simply wanted to let her know that he didn't appreciate the criticism.
While Beary continues to defend his use of the database to obtain her home address, the Sentinel reports that he did write a letter of apology to her this week.
It probably would have been better if the Sentinel had edited out the personal reference, as it was not relevant to the primary subject of the letter. But it seems as though Sheriff Beary clear went over the line, and he may end up paying for it with a lawsuit in federal court under the Driver's Privacy Protection Act of 1994.