USA TODAY Network Releases 85,000 Police Misconduct Records

A History of Misconduct & Corruption

Law enforcement officers have a duty to serve the public by enforcing state and federal laws. However, as the old saying goes, “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely;” in fact, many officers are guilty of the same offenses they actively police: excessive force, assault, sexual harassment, theft, driving while intoxicated, domestic abuse, drug dealing, etc. In the past, these officials have benefited from special protections sanctioned by corrupt departments, police unions, and their greater political allies. Records involving misconduct and abuses of authority are usually filed away or destroyed before they can be viewed by media representatives or the public.

Fortunately, recent advancements in cellular technology and the development of social media platforms have empowered the greater public. Victims and concerned bystanders alike have been using their cell phones to film and share acts of misconduct, thereby holding negligent divisions accountable for the actions of their officers.

USA TODAY Network’s Investigation

Last year, USA TODAY, its 100-plus affiliated newsrooms, and the nonprofit Invisible Institute in Chicago started investing and collecting over 85,000 police misconduct records obtained from thousands of state agencies, prosecutors, and police departments. These records detail at last 200,000 incidents of alleged misconduct, most of which had never been officially reported.

John Kelly and Mark Nichols of USA Today reported the network’s findings in an article entitled, “We found 85,000 cops who’ve been investigated for misconduct. Now you can read their records.” According to Kelly and Nichols, “The records obtained include more than 110,000 internal affairs investigations by hundreds of individual departments and more than 30,000 officers who were decertified by 44 state oversight agencies. USA TODAY Network has gathered discipline and accountability records on more than 85,000 law enforcement officers and has started releasing to the public. The first collection published is a list of more than 30,000 officers who have been decertified, essentially banned from the profession, in 44 states.”

The database is currently incomplete because affiliates could only obtain records from 700 law enforcement agencies across the country. USA TODAY Network has already posted the database online and is asking journalists, officers, government officials, and civilians to contribute to this ongoing project.

At present, their findings include the following information:

  • 22,924 cases of officers using excessive force
  • 3,145 allegations of child molestation, rape, and other acts of sexual misconduct
  • 2,307 instances of domestic violence by police officers
  • 2,227 incidents of perjury, falsifying reports, and tampering with evidence or witnesses 
  • 418 cases of officers obstructing investigations out of self-interest
  • 2,500 officers have been investigated on 10 or more charges of misconduct
  • 20 officials have kept their badges despite being investigated over 100 times
  • Less than 10% of officers actually get investigated for acts of misconduct

USA TODAY hopes that publishing these records gives the “public an opportunity to examine their police department and the broader issue of police misconduct, as well as to help identify decertified officers who continue to work in law enforcement.”

The records in the database include the following information:

  • The officer’s name
  • The department the officer worked for
  • What year the state revoked their certification
  • The reasons for the revocation

USA TODAY Network was inspired to take action after the Trump Administration stopped any investigations and court actions against corrupt or racially biased police departments. At the time, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that federal investigations “hurt” crime fighting and that regulating officers is best left to local departments and state authorities.

However, Laurie Robinson, co-chair of the 2014 White House Task Force on 21st Center Policing, told Kelly and Nichols that transparency is critical when it comes to encouraging trust between police and residents. She adds, “It’s about the people who you have hired to protect you. Traditionally, we would say for sure that policing has not been a transparent entity in the U.S. Transparency is just a very key step along the way to repairing our relationships.”

Schedule a Consultation with Experienced Police Misconduct Attorneys

According to The Counted, a Guardian US project, police departments in Los Angeles consistently rank the highest when it comes to assessing the number of people killed by police officers and other law enforcement officials. This devastating statistic doesn’t even account for the number of residents injured by remorseless police officers on a near-daily basis.

If you or a loved one have been victimized by the actions of a police officer, contact the Los Angeles police misconduct lawyers at Reed & Garcia Law, P.C. We take a firm stance when it comes to protecting our fellow community members, particularly in cases involving police brutality and misconduct. Our trial-tested legal team can investigate the officer’s questionable conduct and career history, help you file an official complaint, and aggressively represent your interests both in and out of the courtroom. With our guidance, you can recover compensation that accounts for your ongoing medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and more.

Contact Reed & Garcia Law, P.C. at (310) 242-8933 to schedule a free consultation. We provide legal services in both English and Spanish.