Florida Trooper Who Stopped Speeding MPD Officer Files Lawsuit After Alleged Harassment By Other Officers

Submitted By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

FHP Stops MHP officerMany are aware of the incident in October of 2011 when the Florida Highway Patrol stopped a speeding Miami Police Department vehicle operating without emergency equipment, weaving through traffic and reaching speeds up to 120 MPH. The MPD officer driving claimed to be late for an off-duty assignment at an area school. The police officer was eventually fired by Miami PD. Dash-cam video was uploaded to Youtube and witnessed by many. The incident also made national headlines. The Miami PD officer involved had no emergent or law enforcement justification for driving at this speed and doing so without emergency lighting is considered hazardous. Dash-cam video quotes the trooper as saying one of the reasons for her concern was that a day prior a police vehicle was stolen and was involved in a tragic incident.

Now the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper, Donna Jane Watts, has filed a civil suit against several officers and police agencies alleging her driver license information had been unlawfully accessed and that she had been subjected to harassment by other law enforcement officers due the incident involving the Miami Police Department officer.

Donna claims that not long after the incident, she began receiving random telephone calls including threats, harassment, and pranks. Cars unfamiliar to her and several police vehicles began parking outside her residence which made her uncomfortable and she became worried for her safety.

She suspected the reason for these random cars showing up was the result of her driver license information being accessed by these other officers and through a public disclosure request she discovered her license information had been accessed over two hundred times over a three month period by eighty eight law enforcement officers from twenty five agencies.

Trooper Donna Watts
Donna Watts

In her lawsuit against these officers and their agencies, Donna claims under the federal Driver Privacy Protection Act of 1994, she is entitled to a penalty of $2,500.00 for each violation of the act where the access of the information served no legitimate purpose. Donna reportedly could collect $500,000.00 and most of the officers involved received some form of discipline from their agencies.

The police agencies responded, claiming they were not subject to the law since the access of the information was not for a financial gain purpose and therefore outside the scope of the law. They are seeking a dismissal of the lawsuit. The Justice Department reportedly disagrees with these agencies’ claim.

The lawsuit is not sitting well with various agencies. The National Association of Police Agencies (NAPO) is currently lobbying congress to remove the $2,500.00 penalty and to restructure the law so that violations would only occur if there is economic damage.

Harassment seldom involves economic benefit to the guilty party. In fact this was one of the main reasons numerous state legislatures prohibited public disclosure of driver license information, especially due to stalking and assaults that were taking place after aggressors used driver’s address information to locate them.

There is little defense to the act of accessing Donna’s license information without justification. Not only is this unlawful in the aforementioned federal act, but it is a violation of NLETS (National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System) policy as well as state analogues.

NAPO’s lobbying efforts do not serve to protect the public, but rather agencies and governments. NAPO claims the act in its current form allows lawyers to hit agencies up for penalties against individual officers for simply accessing information. This is not the case if these officers followed standard procedures and had a need to know the information. There is no legitimate reason for an officer to access driver license information unless it has a specific purpose, whether it is during a criminal or traffic investigation, to ascertain contact information of a potential witness, or to locate a person for a legitimate law enforcement function such as serving an arrest warrant or civil paper. If the officers were using it for a legitimate purpose there is no cause for these “lawyers” as NAPO puts it to seek penalties against individual officers.

Donna did nothing to earn what she received in terms of the harassment and privacy violations alleged. NAPO’s attempt to perpetuate potential harassment situations by clearing the way for future violations of citizens’ privacy is equally inexcusable.


Fox News

By Darren Smith
The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.

18 thoughts on “Florida Trooper Who Stopped Speeding MPD Officer Files Lawsuit After Alleged Harassment By Other Officers”

  1. I hope she gets the half mill plus punitive as well… Plus the 88 be disciplined and discharged…..

  2. Awesome! Good for her! If the cops won’t respond to common sense & reason hit em in their pocket book!

  3. i wonder what happened to the trooper who famously pulled over Guv Rick Perry? i tried searching the google, butt body cavity searches were the only results that showed up….

  4. Great Article! What Terry said.

    If she wins her case, she should quit and join the FBI as a field agent (or go back to school for a different career. Her days, in state and local law enforcement, are numbered).

  5. Great story Darren. It took another officer to poke a tiny hole in the blue wall. I hope she gets a fat check out of these so-called peace officers.

  6. Above the law. It all comes down to that. When you are above the law you can virtually do anything and if someone, no matter who, dares to question you they must be punished. And thes people have guns and the power to arrest. It is scary.

  7. The female officer broke the unwritten code of taking down another law enforcement officer. She was justified but paid the “Serpico” price.

  8. Further proof of the stench in government, from the rank-and-file all the way to the White House, contempt not just for the rule of law but all taxpayers.

    I’ve always been impressed by Native American respect for the environment, a culture that includes ceremonies that confirm the subordination of the individual to nature, ongoing appreciation for all that nature provides, “take only what is needed” conservatism.

    But when it comes to government, there is zero respect for taxpayers, a culture with only contempt for the electorate, universal ethics that promote and reward trashing, waste, and corruption.

    A class-action lawsuit against the NSA?

  9. When you see an igPay speed by you on a bridge where the speed limit is 45 and the rails are close by and he does not have siren or lights flashing then report him/her on the cell phone. Video camera if ya got it. We have to stop this. They think that their itShay don’t stink.

  10. This shows what the public thinks of the police – there are a lot of wonderful people in all areas of public service, but unfortunately, power corrupts and many just get too big for their boots, the ultimate crime in my opinion since we are forced to put up with their lofty attitudes AND their unjust ways. God help this PO for trying to make things right – she will need the help – they are getting out of control in many areas. I have met many who really needed a good kick in the backside.!!

  11. FtP

    If police cars parking outside your residence causes worry for your safety, what does that say about society’s trust in law enforcement?
    Especially when the worried person is an officer themselves.
    Cultural cancer comes to mind.

    The culture eating itself.

  12. If police cars parking outside your residence causes worry for your safety, what does that say about society’s trust in law enforcement?
    Especially when the worried person is an officer themselves.

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