New Database Of Police Contracts

There’s a new free database of police contracts in larger cities called Check The Police.  It’s from an odd source — in fact, you can’t tell who is hosting the web page other than that the public records requests that produced the database seem to have been submitted through Muckrock.

Part of this is a snooze, since most police and fire contracts in larger cities are posted on the web sites of employers and/or unions. Part of it has me wondering what’s up. In that category, check out the “Purpose” statement:

“We are assembling the first open-source database of police union contracts and other documents related to police accountability for the 100 largest U.S. cities. In our review, we are examining the ways in which the methods that the police use to investigate themselves differ from those used to investigate members of the public. We are also examining the ways in which the police have changed the tools and techniques used to get to the truth when police officers violate rules, laws, or policies.”

Part of that paragraph is blessed with naivete that is so obvious that it could be feigned (of course administrative investigations are conducted differently than criminal investigations, and for a variety of reasons). But what about the “changed the tools and techniques” sentence — does anyone know what that’s talking about?

Then there’s the Project Phases, the fourth of which should be firmly placed in the “we’ll see” department since it involves more than a couple of guys or gals, a couple of basements, and a couple of computers:

Phase 1: Receive all requested police union contracts and develop police accountability fact sheets from each contract
Phase 2: Analyze and publish trends related to issues of police accountability by city
Phase 3: Develop model contract language and apply this language to city contracts as a part of contract revision strategy
Phase 4: Engage in direct action related to contract changes at the city and/or state level

But what’s most interesting to me I have resisted touching. I’m very curious about the “Accountability Fact Sheets.” However, the links are to Dropbox, and I’ll be darned if I’ll use my Dropbox account to download something from an unknown source. Perhaps I’ll find an old laptop I’m ready to donate to charity and, before I wipe it, take it someplace where there’s a public network, create a new Dropbox account untethered to my law office or LRIS, and then I’ll click onto those links. Anyone out there braver than me?

By the way, if it’s free police/fire labor contracts you want, you can just go to LRIS’s web page. And you won’t even have to haul an old laptop to a coffee shop.