Secret Clearance Chances w/Dismissed IT charge

Background: Prior to federal employment, I was a police officer for nearly 9 years. I resigned with a two-week notice on March 20, 2018 due to the increasing dangers and anti-police rhetoric that was taking a toll on my family adding undesired stress. On March 27, 2018, I regrettably made the mistake of using my login credentials to locate address information to complete restraining order paperwork against someone who was harassing my family (To include my children) and myself. The information viewed was public information and not sensitive in nature. I felt as though I had no choice in obtaining the address information in order to complete the restraining order paperwork since the harassment was getting increasingly worse and my mind was on the protection of my family and me. The next day, on March 28, 2018, I was able to file the restraining order against the harassing party with the courts and had it granted that morning. On July 3, 2018, I was served a Misdemeanor summons/citation for the charge of Computer Crimes, for having looked up the harassing person’s address, using my login credentials as a police officer. This was not via any department/organization computer, nor was I acting under the color of my authority at the time. I had already submitted my two-week notice and on leave during this time (with my final day, less than a week away). I accessed the address information from my home (personal) computer, using a free site for law enforcement with my login credentials instead of the pay for site, Lexus Nexis, to obtain the address information. I got hired for federal employment on August 11, 2018 with a Tier 1 background (everything above was mentioned and disclosed in that background investigation - SF85). On October 18, 2018, I entered a deferred plea agreement, which stipulated a complete and early dismissal of the charge in efforts to be accountable for this mistake, accept responsibility in a timely fashion, and to put this behind me, learn from it, and move forward. My Tier 1 investigation passed and came back on May 19, 2019. The charge was dismissed on June 18, 2019. Now, my job is requiring a secret security clearance to continue with my work and be available for a promotion.

Here are my questions: What will my outcome be for a secret clearance? How should I answer Question 27: In the last seven (7) years have you illegally or without proper authorization accessed or attempted to access any information technology system? – since I was on terminal leave and accessed info from my home computer and not work computer?

The answer is yes to the IT questions. The behavior you described is the behavior that will get you fired or charged with a crime in the federal world. The issue is you used official access for personal gain.

Even DCSA uses google and other open source search engines to find people instead of SSA or IRS rolls.

As for the secret clearance - that is between you and the adjudicator.

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Thank you so much for your response! Hindsight is always 20/20 unfortunately. It was a stupid mistake that I deeply regret - and I knew better. Had this person been a regular citizen, I’d have googled or white paged them. But this person was a police officer as well who got fired for departing from the truth about two years prior to this and their address was stricken from all public records because they had been a law enforcement officer. I needed the address and resorted to a desperate and very idiotic move on my part.

I believe I know the answer to this (SF86 is higher clearance and scrutiny, etc) but does it matter than I passed my Tier 1 less than a year ago? Also, if I get denied a secret clearance, what happens with my current job?

Were you also disciplined for the actions? Even though you had already put in a two weeks’ notice, if you were disciplined, that will also need to be listed. I would also venture that one could argue that you did not leave this employment under favorable circumstances, which is another question on the SF-86.

If you don’t get the clearance, it will be up to the employer what happens, i.e. if they have uncleared work for you, will wait for an appeal or for you to retry next year, etc.

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I was not disciplined and left on my own accord and volition. It was a decision to use my degrees and be in a safer career and nothing more to it - it sounds like there is more to the story because of the timeline but there really isn’t any other reason for my departure and there’s nothing on my employment record that would say otherwise. My understanding of the entire situation was that the department conducted an audit of my credentials after I left because the person I obtained a restraining order on requested it in efforts to “get me back”. Charges are and have been dismissed.

I can support what Tyler is saying. Plenty of people I know in LE are looking at their retirement numbers and doing the math to see when they can leave ASAP. Especially with all the things going on these days.

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Thanks for that. It’s hard to articulate the climate of LE these days and reasoning for leaving on paper without high scrutiny over something else may be afoot. The optics definitely don’t look good on paper when viewing the timeline and appearance of drama surrounding my situation though, but I hope this minor incident can be overlooked by the adjudicator. Thoughts? Advice?

No one is going to be able to tell you either way adjudications will go. The answer is, it depends, i.e. the agency, job, what you need for access, other life hiccups, etc. All you can do is mitigate as much as possible. Put time between you and the incident without repeated behavior, explain to the Investigator when you are interviewed the circumstances, don’t add fluff, be open and honest is all you can really do. Adjudications will use a whole person concept when adjudicating your case, so you will have a decent shot.

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Thank you. I think I’m going to forego the background investigation for now. It’ll mean passing up a promotion, but I don’t think there has been enough time between me and the incident to definitively feel confident enough for successful award of a clearance at this moment and certainly don’t want to have to mark having been denied a security clearance on all of my future prospects. Again, thank you for your responses and solid answers. It sucks right now, but I’m content with where I am currently and am thankful for what I have. Better things will come with time. Lessons learned.

Tough call for sure. Putting off a year would give you three years between the incident, which is a significant amount of time. Hard to roll the dice on this one because if you are denied, as you already said, you’ll have that denial forever.

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