In this world of indiscriminating sex offender registries, violent offender registries, lifetime registration, neighborhood notification and posting of pictures, names and offenses online for everyone to see, it was a bit amusing when law enforcement got their collective panties in a wad over a website called ratemycop.com. Reason Hit and Run explains:
The premise is simple: Sesto wrote to police departments across the country, and obtained a list of the names and badge numbers of their officers. He then posted the names online in a format broken down by state and city, and encouraged users to rate their experiences with individual officers. All of the information he posted was already open to the public. He didn’t post the identities of any undercover officers.
Law enforcement agencies freaked out, saying that making public information available on this website threatened their safety. The site does not post home addresses or information about undercover officers, so that claim seems hollow.
Chief Jerry Dyer, president of the California Police Chiefs Association, voices what sounds like a more honest concern: that officers will face “unfair maligning” by the citizens they serve.
Chief Dyer wants to get legislation passed that would make RateMyCop.com illegal, which, of course, wouldn’t pass constitutional muster in any court in America.
Oh the irony. It’s coming down in buckets. But that’s not all. Godaddy, the service he chose to host this website, took it down with barely 60 seconds notice for “suspicious activity” and then changed its tune to exceeding bandwith or some such nonsense.
He then took the site to another host, which initially accepted his down payment. Then:
They turned him down. After initial accepting his down payment for hosting services, a RackSpace lawyer sent a letter to Sesto stating that, “We believe that the website to be found at www.ratemycop.com as described to our sales representative could create a risk to the health and safety of law enforcement officers.”
By allowing people to write about their experiences with particular officers? I’m not buying it.
Curiously, police agencies have no problem with Cops Writing Cops, which is a site for cops to trash other cops for not showing them “professional courtesy”.
So a website where cops can complain about, essentially, getting ticketed, arrested and charged for breaking the law is okay, but a website where the public they serve does that is unacceptable.
I’m not saying this website should be used to harass people or disclose their personal information or any such thing (just like the ban on vigilante action using information obtained from sex offender registries), I just think their reaction is funny, that’s all.