Monday, March 17, 2008

I'll briefly jump into the fracas concerning a new website called Robert Guest at the new Dallas Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog started the hoopla here. Gideon jumped in here. And Greenfield here.

Guest observed the website owners were sending out open record requests to Texas law enforcement agencies to fill-out their database on Texas cops. Interestingly, the TDCAA message board was abuzz with discussions about the website and the requests. Robert commented:
You know Open Records are important if the Government hates it. The State exists not to make your life better, but to advance the interests of the State. Prosecutors see no benefit to Open Records because it does not benefit them directly.
Gideon's comments were on the amusing side observing how law enforcement got their "collective panties in a wad" over the website, especially in this world of ever expanding sex offender registries, violent offender registries, and the like. Gideon opined:
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.

Finally, Greenfield observed, hey "But it's the Cops. And that changes everything."
Americans are scared to death of the cops, and will do anything to avoid angering them and making themselves a target. In their hearts, people fear the police. Great!
Forget we've got websites for judges and lawyers. But when the cops are involved we head for the collective hills, including internet tough guys like Godaddy and Rackspace. I, for one, hope RateMyCop makes a go-of-it. Transparency leads to honesty and I know my share of dishonest cops who could stand a little transparency in their professional lives. What's wrong with those wielding power living in glass-walled houses? With power comes responsibility and the best way to maintain responsible behavior is to reveal it - for good or for bad.

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