Police Abuse

Check Out This New Database of Corrupt Cops

USA Today launches an important new tool for tracking officers who have been fired for misconduct.

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USA Today has partnered with its affiliate newsrooms and a nonprofit group in Chicago to launch an important new database that documents law enforcement officers with records of misconduct.

Part of that database is now available for public searches. USA Today has documented at least 85,000 cops who have been investigated or disciplined for misconduct across the past decade. But this initial document dump focuses just on 30,000 cops who have been "decertified" by various state agencies for misconduct.

There are 44 states that have an internal decertification process that is intended to try to make sure that bad cops can't migrate to other cities or states to land new jobs at other agencies after they've been fired for misconduct. But as Anthony Fisher documented for Reason in 2016, there's really no centralized tracking going on so that it's easy to determine who is on any of those lists, and even decertified cops can go on to find new jobs in law enforcement agencies elsewhere. Several of these states require officers to actually be convicted of crimes before they'll actually be decertified. And police unions have resisted any efforts to make a national decertification database.

So it's possible that this USA Today database is a useful resource to other law enforcement agencies in states that don't participate in the decertification process or are otherwise struggling to get the information.

But there are still huge gaps—California does not participate in this 44-state decertification program and they've got more police and deputies than anybody else. It was just with the start of this new year that California changed its record laws to unseal records of police misconduct that had been hidden from public view.

Of the cops who were decertified, USA Today notes that the greatest number of them had been banned for drug or alcohol issues (DUIs, for example) and for assaults or violence. But a good number of them (close to 2,000) had been banned for sexual misconduct. Another 2,777 had been banned for "dishonesty," a category that covers behavior like perjury or tampering with evidence.

Also worth note: USA Today's data show that only 10 percent of officers in most police forces get investigated for misconduct. But among those who have been banned, nearly 2,500 had been investigated on 10 or more charges. A small group of them (20) had faced 100 or more allegations and were still serving. If it's bad apples spoiling the bunch, some of them are really bad.

USA Today ends its piece by openly calling for cooperation from journalists at other media outlets, from members of the public, and even from law enforcement agencies and prosecutors to fill out this database. The opening of police records in California has prompted media outlets there to work together to track down decades' worth of what had been secret details of police misconduct. Maybe they'll add their work to what USA Today is doing.

Check out the database here.

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26 responses to “Check Out This New Database of Corrupt Cops

  1. I am honestly impressed by this latest MSM bid for relevance. Excellent work.

    1. Don’t worry. Once a Democrat is back in office they’ll go back to bed.

    2. I agree. If they keep this active and updated, they’ve done something of great value.

  2. So it’s possible that this USA Today database is a useful resource to other law enforcement agencies in states that don’t participate in the decertification process or are otherwise struggling to get the information.

    Do we get the impression that many hiring authorities at law enforcement agencies want to know the histories of their candidates?

    1. “It seems some snitch got you in trouble at your last job…we’ll keep this on file in case you criticize the department.”

      1. If a department hires a cop, knowing he was decertified, and later tries to use that information against him, won’t they have to explain why they hired him in the first place?

        1. Strictly speaking, I wasn’t thinking through that joke very thoroughly.

  3. This is really good stuff. Name and shame them, just like they do to people who have not been convicted of a crime yet (like the story about the Arizona CPS early today). These people need ankle monitors.

    1. Interesting that they’d pick such a mundane crime: helping an illegal immigrant avoid ICE by ducking out the back door.

      I have little doubt they could find a lot of real corruption if they actually wanted to spend the time. Sounds like they were just personally peeved at this.

      1. The guy was wanted in Pennsylvania and she helped him escape. That makes her guilty regardless of whether the guy is an illegal alien

        1. Not in the eyes of libertarians. AFAIK, the guy was only guilty of victimless crimes.

          1. DUI is a victimless crime? Really?

            1. Yes.

              CB

            2. Depends. I was arrested for a DUI with a BAC of .02 (not a mistake in typing), that certainly was victimless (well except for my wallet). Kinda of depends on the circumstances of his case.

              1. our county has a zero tolerance they don’t care what level it is they will arrest you and take you to jail, the next day you will be set you free but the report has already been reported to your insurance so you are screwed. they admitted this to the local radio station

            3. I have to go with yes. If you make it home safely, who is the victim?

              1. If you got arrested for it, did you make it home safely?

    2. “Abuses of power hurt us all,” said Peter Fitzhugh, special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations in Boston. “It undermines the core mission of government to serve the people. It has no place in a just and accountable society.”

      But yet, there continues to be rampant abuse of federal powers to conduct warrantless searches on American citizens by ICE every single day. Crazy.

      1. If you want to see an abuse of power
        We have a President who is conspiring with others to violate federal law at this very moment. Compulsory process to appear before Congress is very much like a warrant and very much demanded by federal criminal statute in no uncertain terms. The AG knows all about it but is essentially complicit in the scheming taking his orders from the chief conspirator knowing full well he is a suborning a criminal act. If this state judge can be prosecuted for letting someone leave her courtroom knowing the person is under warrant then surely Trump and the others including AG Barr can be prosecuted for their indispensable roles in the greater conspiracy to violate federal criminal law.

        1. Poor OP.

          I am sure you will have a meltdown once Trump is reelected.

  4. Several of these states require officers to actually be convicted of crimes before they’ll actually be decertified. And police unions have resisted any efforts to make a national decertification database.

    Wouldn’t your criminal conviction record be the database? That’s my database. I mean, my union isn’t as good as the cop union, but still.

  5. USA Today has documented at least 85,000 cops who have been investigated or disciplined for misconduct across the past decade. But this initial document dump focuses just on 30,000 cops who have been “decertified” by various state agencies for misconduct.

    I have to admit, I would have guessed those numbers would be about 1/10th of what they are. Considering that there are well over a million LEO’s in the US and we’re looking at a ten-year period, it’s really not that much, but still an impressive number being held to account.

  6. Great. Now do teachers, and while we’re at it every public employee.

  7. So when are they going to put out a list of “unreliable” press. Fake news, half baked facts, and ultra biased reporting all in the name of the public’s right to know half the story. We need to know who not to read. I think the list would be longer than the cop list.

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