Local News

Police agencies upset over Ratemycop.com

Friday, March 07, 2008

A new Web site is infuriating police agencies all over the state and the country. It's called Ratemycop.com and it allows users to rate the performance of more than 130,000 police officers whose names are posted there. That may sound good to some, but police believe the site puts them and their families in danger.

"I'd like to see it gone," says Officer Hector Basurto, vice president of the Latino Police Officers Association. He recently learned about Ratemycop.com and is furious.

"Having a Web site like that puts a lot of law enforcement, in my eyes, in danger because it exposes us out there," says Officer Basurto.

"Will they be able to access our home addresses, our home phone numbers, our marital status, whether or not we have children? Which is always a big concern," says Kevin Martin, vice president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association.

Creators of the site say no personal information will be on the site. They gathered officers names which are public information from more than 450 police agencies nationwide. Some listings also have badge numbers along with the officers' names.

Rebecca Costell says in a statement that the site helps people rate more than 130,000 officers nationwide by rating them on authority, fairness and satisfaction. She adds, "our Web site's purpose is to break the stereotype that people have that cops are all bad by having police officers become responsible for their actions. We will screen the site for any inappropriate comments."

This site is so new that many Bay Area police agencies are not aware of it. San Francisco Police say they have no connection to the site, nor would they take any of the comments on it seriously.

Police associations that represent more than 100,000 police and sheriffs in California are now seeking legislation to see if they can eliminate the site altogether.

"Officers who are rated face unfair maligning without any opportunity to defend themselves. The CPCA will work with other law enforcement associations to pursue legislation to stop the Web site," says Chief Jerry Dyer, president of the California Police Chiefs Association.

Constitutional attorney and former San Francisco police commissioner, Peter Keane, says eliminating the site is difficult.

"Any kind of publication is protected as long as it is not publishing privileged information," says Keane.

The First Amendment would be the site's protection.

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