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Dispatcher fired, facing charges

Emil Whitis • Aug 27, 2014 at 2:38 PM

Another Erie County dispatcher is facing criminal charges. 

On Monday deputies arrested Tracy Smith, 42, of Wakeman, charging her with unauthorized use of a computer, a fifth-degree felony. 

Smith allegedly used a statewide police database to gather information on her ex-boyfriend, ex-husband and various neighbors. She also looked up several Sandusky police officers and Erie County inmates, according to an Erie County deputy’s report. 

Much of that snooping was done from her home computer, Erie County Chief Deputy Jared Oliver said. 

The database Smith used is called the Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway, or OHLEG. It’s a type of restricted search engine that combines information from several state databases, including LEADS and the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Using OHLEG, dispatchers and officers can search any name for addresses, warrants, criminal history and registered vehicles. 

Users can even pull up a mugshot to match a searched name. 

OHLEG can only be used for criminal investigations. Smith broke that rule, Erie County Sheriff Paul Sigsworth said. 

Deputies opened a criminal investigation into Smith’s dabblings May 2. By that time, Sigsworth had already fired Smith, a probationary employee, based on the alleged improprieties. 

Deputies drove out to her South Street home for an interview. 

“Smith explained that she did not think she was doing anything wrong as she was not getting personal information on others to use for her personal gain or with malicious intent,” a deputy’s report said. 

She then admitted to “checking up” on a former boyfriend and her ex-husband.

She told deputies she was angry at her ex-husband for not paying child support, so she searched for his home address and the status of his driver’s license. 

She then told deputies how she searched for all houses within a 400-foot radius of her house. 

“She explained that she wanted to see photos of those who lived around her so she could recognize them,” the report said.

“She also wanted to find out if there were criminal issues involving her neighbors.” 

And then, there were the Sandusky police officers. 

“Smith stated that she had ran several of the officers from the Sandusky Police Department as she did not know many of the officers and was only trying to put a face to their name,” the report said. “Smith denied trying to obtain any information on family members of any law enforcement officers.” 

Sigsworth called Smith’s actions a “breach of trust.” 

“She was dealt with quickly after we learned what she’d done,” Sigsworth said. “Her activities are not reflective of the other dispatchers we have employed at the sheriff’s office. It’s disappointing.” 

Smith bonded out of the Erie County jail on her own recognizance.

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