King County, WA – The King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) and the Seattle Police Department (SPD) have cut off a critical database over concerns that information the departments contribute to the database could be used by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.
The Legal Information Network Exchange (LInX) is a U.S. military database that was created as a way for local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to easily share and access information, KIRO reported.
Agencies are able to are able to upload parts of their police reports and booking photos so that other agencies can view them to learn more about many of the suspects and victims they were dealing with, according to KIRO.
The presence of information alerts investigators that they can contact the originating agency to obtain a copy of the full records.
Without the database, investigators have no practical way of knowing which agencies had prior cases involving the suspect or victim unless they were criminally charged.
The database does not keep records of immigration status data.
But on Aug. 14, Seattle-area law enforcement officers discovered they could no longer access the widely-used, invaluable tool.
“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 [memorandum of understanding],” the Northwest LInX Regional Program manager said in an email to the KCSO, according to KIRO.
“Therefore, all KCSO user accounts will have to be disabled, denying access to law enforcement information sharing,” the notification read.
According to one KCSO employee, deputies had no knowledge that they would be cut off from the heavily-used database until they received the email from LInX on the day of the shutdown, KIRO reported.
The KCSO Major Crimes Unit has been in mayhem since their access was denied.
“LInX is a tool used by law enforcement to help with investigations,” another employee said. “Without it we have zero other tools.”
According to an email sent to employees by King County Undersheriff Scott Somers on Aug. 15, LInX refused to develop firewalls that would have prevented ICE from accessing information contained in the database, KIRO reported.
“We could not reach a solution that insured that the civil immigration functions would not have access, especially when viewed from a national level,” Undersheriff Somers wrote. “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.”
SPD spokesperson Sean Whitcomb has also confirmed that the city’s officers no longer have access to LInX, KIRO reported.