A Richmond police officer has been arrested on charges of inappropriately accessing the state's Virginia Criminal Information Network database. He was arraigned in Richmond Circuit Court on Oct. 9.
Samuel “Sammy” Hernandez, who works with the city Police Department's canine unit, faces two counts of computer invasion of privacy after an ongoing investigation that included assistance from the Virginia State Police.
“He was indicted for unauthorized use of a computer,” Richmond Commonwealth's Attorney Michael Herring says, noting that “the usage did not involve anything predatory or sexual, and it also didn't involve any minor.
“It appears to have arisen from a domestic context,” Herring says.
The database in question is a vast storehouse of criminal and personal information on individuals arrested, wanted or otherwise connected with crimes in Virginia. It's also linked to the FBI's National Crime Information Center, providing national access to criminal history and background.
“It contains everything. … that would be critical for use by law enforcement personnel,” state police spokeswoman Corinne Geller says. “And only law enforcement personnel can access it.”
Law enforcement personnel are allowed to use the database under controlled conditions and must have a justifiable, line-of-duty reason for accessing it.
Richmond Police spokesman Gene Lepley confirmed Hernandez's arrest, but was unable to provide further details by press time.