By David Cuillier | August 29th, 2008
A Web site, ratemycop.com, started a year ago, allows anyone to anonymously rate individual police officers in their communities. You can find all sorts of interesting comments, such as, “Swaggers like John Wayne but has the muscle of Olive Oil. Causes hate and discontent everywhere she goes.” And worse, similar to comments posted at ratemyprofessors.com or pickaprof.com. But how credible are these complaints?
Instead, go to government documents to find bad cops (and profs). Request internal investigation reports or disciplinary records regarding government employees. Sift through claims against agencies and lawsuits (I found patterns of excessive force by a few officers through analyzing claims and lawsuits, which are both public records). Some agencies will want to hide behind privacy laws, and in some states the courts have upheld the privacy rights for government employees’ disciplinary records. But more and more, I’m seeing courts rule in favor of requesters. They see the importance of the government transparency. We pay these people’s salaries so we should know if they are doing bad things or not. The public supports access to those records.