I just got off the phone with an officer from Jacksonville Beach Police Department and this time the news is good. I am no longer a felon in the FCIC (Florida crime database) or the NCIC (national crime database.) In fact, the process to have me removed began in July of 2006. The local police officer that I had filed the report with in June '06 was eventually able to find the right person in Miami-Dade county to let them know of the error. Travis, if you ever read this, Thank You!
This doesn't mean all is well, but it at least will keep me from being harassed by the police for being thought to be a felon. The problem that still exists is that the FBI sold my information to many companies that resell said information as employment background checks. Unlike the consumer credit reporting agencies, these companies appear to have no legal obligation to verify the information in their databases is accurate. Some may, others may not.
As of today there are still many different databases with information about me in them. For example, the Miami-Dade County Clerk's website still has not been updated. Search for my name and it still returns my name as the primary identity for the crime of drug possession.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) website now returns a record for Antoine Barzotti when you search for my name. The record now shows my name as well as Makenton's as aliases of Antoine. (Makenton was his real name, Antoine was an alias.) It also now says that he is female. Go figure.
If I have to apply for a job or anything else that requires a background check I will still have to provide a copy of the police report explaining what had happened. What I don't like about this is that it requires an extra step for lazy Human Resources people to verify my eligibility for a job. On the other hand, I no longer think I'm destined for a corporate job. For better or for worse, this experience has forced me to make it on my own and now I can't see going back to a cubicle if I don't have to. I'm still going to hedge my bet here and point out that I don't think that all Human Resources people are lazy, just in case.
Over the last year and a half I've had four not-so-pleasant experiences with police officers due to this whole fiasco. First, there was the officer from the bank that was so obnoxious towards me when he dropped off my driver's license, before I knew he thought I was felon. Then there were the three officers that ganged up on me to falsify all those tickets--I'll still be paying for that for years to come insurance-wise. After that there was the bicycle cop that rode up to my house on the Fourth of July and accused me of being a drug dealer in front of all my guests. And finally there was the officer that ran my license plate and locked me in the back of his police car until he could verify that I wasn't really the guy that committed the crimes.
I wrote in one of my posts that I had decided not to live my life in fear, and since I made that decision I've stuck to it. But it's always been there in the back of my mind. Every time I left my house I'd go into a heightened state of alertness. Whenever a police car would be driving behind me the hair would stand up on the back of my neck and a cold sweat would start just below my hairline. There were dozens of nightmares where I was chased by cops, beaten by cops, or shot by cops. I guess when I said I that I wasn't living in fear what I meant to say that I wasn't letting fear control my life because, in reality, the fear was still there.
That's why the news today that I'm no longer in the FCIC and NCIC databases is such a big deal. The officer I spoke with today told me when he ran my name in the computer the felonies had been removed; they didn't just add a note that I'm not that guy, but my name is actually no longer showing up! I know when I finish writing this and I walk out my front door I'm going to feel a lot different than I've felt in a long time. I can't really explain how I'll feel different, which is why I've just described how I had been feeling for the last year and a half.
I have more that I need to write, so please don't think that this is the end of my blog. If you have subscribed, please stay subscribed. I just need to go outside for a bit. Thanks for reading.
...more to come...