By now, you might have seen this hard-hitting segment that John Oliver did on police accountability last week.
On his show, Oliver explained some of the best reasons why we need an open and independent database of police complaints.
In my opinion, he nailed it. In Baltimore, a short drive from where I live, a recent DOJ investigation exposed a massive failure of the police complaints system. According to the report, police had discouraged citizens and officers from filing complaints. They also routinely misclassified complaints as lesser offenses. And they failed to investigate serious allegations of police corruption.
The truth is, it’s fundamental to the nature of police institutions that they cannot be trusted to police themselves. That’s why it’s up to you and me!
The new Open Police Complaints (OPC) database we’re building will rely on the public – not government officials – to track police misconduct. This will provide a secondary layer of transparency to help hold police accountable in all 18,000 agencies across the country.
With better data, we can expose departments with systemic issues. And we can see whether or not policies like body cameras and mandatory use of force reporting are improving police behavior.
To help us get Open Police Complaints off the ground, consider making a tax-deductible donation to the project. Or volunteer to collect information about you local police department.