Online Data Projects are Fueling the Fight Against Police Misconduct

The Intercept

Most police misconduct goes unreported, particularly in less extreme cases and in more disenfranchised communities, but complaints filed with police departments and civilian review boards, as well as lawsuits, can point to significant histories of abuse tied to specific officers and precincts. In most cases, however, a citizen who becomes the victim of police abuse has next to no way of knowing if that officer is a repeat offender or has a history of targeting certain people, say, or sexual harassment.

As is the case with most police departments across the country, the NYPD does not disclose internal disciplinary records to the public. Even though cities spend millions in public funds to settle lawsuits filed against officers, the public has little access to what the settlements reveal about problematic officers and precincts. Meanwhile, the officers themselves rarely face consequences and often return to the streets quickly, their histories shielded in anonymity.

But that situation is beginning to change — as a growing number of police accountability groups are starting to bypass the departments by aggregating and distributing misconduct history databases on their own.

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