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Seattle Police Checked 120,000 Phone Records in Failed Try to Find Leaks

November 21, 2012 05:18:00 am

The Seattle Police Department spent more than a year combing the records of 120,000 department phone calls in an effort identify the source of a string of leaks to the news media, police officials tell the Seattle Times. The investigation by the Criminal Intelligence Section uncovered at least two contacts with news media that triggered an internal inquiry. One was with a Seattle Times reporter; the other was with a news blogger who now works for the police department.

The findings of the investigation were forwarded to the department's Office of Professional Accountability (OPA), which found the evidence inconclusive. The department said it took the highly unusual step because the news leaks threatened to compromise the investigation into the 2009 killing of police officer Timothy Brenton, the search for the killer of four Lakewood police officers a month later, and a third case involving a search warrant. While insisting the leak investigation was narrowly tailored, the department has yet to release documents in response to a public-records request by The Times and refused to say how many hours or dollars were spent looking into the leaks.

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