As budgets tighten, police forces across Michigan are joining online consortiums to more easily collect and share information about citizens. The state is taking over a mid-Michigan network and plans a dramatic expansion that soon will allow officers from Detroit to the Upper Peninsula to view other agencies’ reports on even mundane incidents from their squad cars.
Vast amounts of personal information — culled from everyday contact with police, from car crashes, noise complaints and broken taillights — can be stored indefinitely along with personal data such as cellphone numbers. Few laws govern the flow of information, which privacy advocates say is an invitation for abuse. Michigan police officials argue that national eavesdropping scandals are enflaming discussion over innovative, cost-saving networks that help catch crooks.