Richard Beck has relinquished his badge in the wake of accusations that he illegally accessed law-enforcement databases to look up information about a man he believed was having an affair with his estranged wife, and later lied about it.
The agreement reached between Beck, 35, and the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board last week permanently strips him of his ability to work as a police officer in Arizona.
According to a board compliance specialist report and a Goodyear police internal investigation, Beck visited the home of his estranged wife, an Avondale police dispatcher, in the middle of the night in January 2008. He knocked on the door to confront his wife and a man, an Avondale police officer, but neither answered the door. Beck suspected they were having an affair.
The Avondale officer said Beck contacted his soon-to-be ex-wife the next morning through the social networking Web site MySpace and that Beck could have only discovered her name through a police database, the reports show. Using the database for non-police purposes is a Class 6 felony, unauthorized access to criminal history.
Beck told Goodyear investigators he used the database toward the end of December 2007 to run the license plate of a vehicle parked outside of the house and discovered it belonged to the Avondale officer, according to the reports. Investigators reviewed database access records and found that Beck ran that officer’s license plate the day before the attempted confrontation in January.
Beck, who was off-duty at the time, told Goodyear police he received a call that night from an acquaintance telling him about a suspicious car at the house, the reports said. Police reviewed phone records and found no support for the claim.
Beck maintains he was truthful about the incident but said he was going through a “difficult and bitter divorce at the time” that affected him emotionally and left his mind in a fog.
“I was in a pretty bad place around that time,” he said in an interview Tuesday.
Beck claims he never denied running the officer’s license plate, but said he felt cornered and that investigators were unwilling to believe that he didn’t have malicious intentions.
“I didn’t run that plate . . . to try to find out information about him. . . . I knew who he was, (my wife) had told me about him, she had admitted to the affair and everything, so I knew there was very little I’d be able to gain by doing something like that,” he said. “I didn’t care about him. At the time, I was more concerned with trying to keep my family together.”
“I was just amazed because I had an outstanding record and everybody knew me, everybody trusted me. I kind of felt like I got a raw deal,” he added.
He said his wife’s infidelity with another police officer and the handling of the investigation led him to resign from the Goodyear force and give up his certification.
“I’d been a police officer for going on about 13 years and I really believed in what I did,” he said. “I just felt like everything that I’d believed in as far as law enforcement and the unity was just taken away from me, and it was the first time in 13 years where I just didn’t like coming to work anymore.”
Beck said he has found a new job in law enforcement but declined to say where.