Even the most fervently loyal supporters of the boys in blue must, if honest, admit that they aren’t all bastions of integrity. We must face the fact that some cops are just bad. And, we must admit that, uncomfortable as it may be, it is in the best interest of the other officers and police departments at large, as well as our communities, to deal with police misconduct appropriately.
That means swiftly, justly and transparently. Unfortunately, that has been more a lofty aspiration than reality, at least until now. But, that may be changing. The key to accomplishing this goal is to hold accountable those in positions of authority – police and city administrations.
That requires a number of things, but it can’t begin to happen without accurate and verified information. Until now that sort of specific information hasn’t been accumulated into any useful, universal database. It has always been too diverse and disconnected, reporting practices too varied and hard to access.
USA Today Police Misconduct Records
Enter a new effort to change that. USA Today has just announced a national program they are leading to collect and publish disciplinary and misconduct records for thousands of police officers. In conjunction with the Chicago-based Invisible Institute, the news network and its over 100 newsroom affiliates have spent over a year working on this.
To date, the details collected represent an impressive effort to gather such a disparate collection of data. However, they are just getting started and seek help in expanding their efforts to gather more from across the nation. More on that below.If you have access to citizen complaints about police, internal affairs investigation records, secret settlement deals between agencies and departing officers or anything that sheds light on..., we want to hear from you. Click To Tweet
“Officers have beaten members of the public, planted evidence and used their badges to harass women. They have lied, stolen, dealt drugs, driven drunk and abused their spouses.
“Despite their role as public servants, the men and women who swear an oath to keep communities safe can generally avoid public scrutiny for their misdeeds.
“The records of their misconduct are filed away, rarely seen by anyone outside their departments. Police unions and their political allies have worked to put special protections in place ensuring some records are shielded from public view, or even destroyed.”
Help Us Investigate
“The number of police agencies and officers in the USA is so large that the blind spots are vast. We need your help…
“Journalists obtained records from more than 700 law enforcement agencies, but the records are not complete for all of those agencies, and there are more than 18,000 police forces across the USA. The records requests were focused largely on the biggest 100 police agencies as well as clusters of smaller departments in surrounding areas, partly to examine movement of officers between departments in regions…
“If you have access to citizen complaints about police, internal affairs investigation records, secret settlement deals between agencies and departing officers or anything that sheds light on how agencies police their officers, we want to hear from you.”
Be sure to read more about this at We found 85,000 cops who’ve been investigated for misconduct. Now you can read their records.