Saturday, March 8, 2008

Ratemycop.com, Part Deux...

Today I received the following e-mail response from a person I assume is the administrator of www.ratemycop.com :

Officer Smith, as you can imagine I’m getting a lot of emails here. So I have to be unwillingly short. If this site turns into a anti-cop site, we failed. We want it to be a conduit between citizens and police officers.

Have a good night, and thanks for your service.

Gino Sesto



Here is my reply:

Gino,
I truly appreciate the fact that you replied at all, even if it is short. It's nice to know there really is someone there getting these e-mails.

You say you want your site to be a conduit between citizens and police officers. How do you propose this to work? Am I going to be able to post responses to my ratings? Are the true identities of the raters going to be divulged as my true identity is on your site?

How is an officer to respond when an attorney brings in a printout of his or her "rating" from your site and asks the officer on the stand why his or her rating is poor? Anyone who thinks this will not happen is either not a police officer, or not an attorney.

I have also heard concerns from the media, friends and co-workers that this site could become a "hit list" of sorts, and could pose a danger to officers and their families. We risk our lives on a daily basis. Is it truly necessary to add another dimension to this risk by posting our information on the internet?

What is to keep the criminal element from using your site to ascertain the names of police officers, then cross reference that information to other internet resources in order to determine an officer's home address, telephone number or other personal information or, worse yet, to use that information to steal that officer's identity.

At any rate, I still fail to see how this site can be entirely fair to either side. We as police officers can not ensure that we get a fair shake unless there is some form of moderation to guarantee truthfulness in the ratings (which I believe to be impossible in an internet based setting). By the same token, the general public can not be sure that what they are seeing is the truth. The great masses are likely to believe whatever they read about the police, whether or not it is true.

It is my belief (and I am by no means the only one who holds this belief) that your intentions may be good (as I believe they are) but you are placing greater weight on the idea that the public needs a place to air their thoughts about police officers, than the need to maintain the safety and privacy of those officers.

Once again, I ask you to thoroughly consider the consequences of your decision to post this information on the internet. I am sure I am not the only police officer to have asked this of you. I am also sure there have been just as many e-mails of support for your actions. I only hope you will make the right decision as it pertains to the proverbial "big picture".

Lastly, if an officer or an officer's family are in any way harmed as a result of your activities, I hope you can deal with the repercussions. We do, after all, live in a land of litigation.

I would sincerely appreciate a detailed reply to my concerns. I understand you are experiencing a very high volume of e-mails. Take as much time as you need. I am very interested in hearing your thoughts on these matters, and I am in no hurry.

Thank you again for your time.



I will certainly keep you all posted if there is anything further...

44 comments:

Kojak said...

Hey bro, I am in total agreement with your assesment. I looked and saw every officer in my department listed in this site, which is over 1600. I feel that we have to fight this in every way possible. I can assure you that this will end up in the wrong hands and used against us in court as well as by criminal element. This site has to be removed as soon as possible. We have had officers cars blown up just recently and there houses riddled with bullets because they were able to track our addresses through the internet. Please keep me advised as you obtain the information. I want to get this information to our officers that blog. Be Safe

USAincognito said...

I really do hope this site administrator will change his ways and take down the site! Before something does happen to one of us and our families!!

5150Wife said...

Gino's response is nothing more than a load of crap. He wants to be a "conduit" of cop-bashing and nothing more.

Back when I had my daycare, I found there were several sites similar to this for daycare bashing. I was lucky; I never got on any of the bad lists. But still, I felt such sites nudged the line of libel. (and, worse, some of those sites did give our addresses & maps to our locations...information the State Licensing won't even give out)

I'm not sure I could place blame on this particular site for officer/family safety, though. A citizen can easily obtain an officer's name by looking at their ticket, the report, the officer's name badge, or a simple call to the dept. Then cross-reference the name on the internet or through any number of State or County records.

I wish all states would pass legislation similar to California's Code Blue (10-35) law. It's not 100% foolproof, but at least it starts in the general direction of protecting LEO's and their families.

gino said...

Guys give the site a chance.

USAincognito said...

Well, well, well....look who has a blog on top of that website!
Really, Gino, this is going to do more damage than good whether you want to admit it or not. Officers' lives will be put in danger, as will the lives of their families. You have done nothing but create a quick & easy hit list of cops for gangs, mobs, and other criminals to use. Please, take down your site!

5150Wife said...

Gino, give the site a chance to do WHAT? Exactly what kind of "conduit" do you expect us to believe you are attempting to create?

gino said...

I don't see how officers lives will be put in danger. We will not allow any information that is not given by an LEO on an every day traffic ticket. If ever personal info is posted it will be removed asap.

I don't understand the paranoia by some LEO's. Obviously I have been reading the post and many LEO's don't think anything of it. They realize they are public officials and are subject to feedback like anyone else.

This will not become an anti-cop site. If it does I failed.

Thanks

5150Wife said...

Officer Smith, forgive me for belaboring the issue here. If you'd rather I move this to my own blog, I'd be happy to oblige...or if Gino would be willing to reveal the location of his blog so we can discuss this further there...

Gino, if you wouldn't mind, please do enlighten us:

#1 I ask you yet again, exactly what kind of "conduit" are you attempting to create with your website?

#2 Exactly what are your plans to prevent it from becoming an anti-cop site?

#3 Yesterday I perused the site and found a complaint against an officer. I do not personally know the officer in question. On your site he is accused of providing false information on a report which then lead to an unfair trial and his department is accused of tampering with evidence (specifically, making it disappear). Those are very serious allegations, which lead me to the following questions:

#1 Do you have a system set up to notify the officer or dept. that they have received feedback on your site?
#2 Do you have a system in place to verify accuracy of these types of inflammatory statements before you allow them to be posted?
#3 Do you have a system in place for the officer/dept. to respond in their own defense?
#4 Do you realize that even if you do have such a system in place, most officers/dept.'s will not be allowed to defend themselves due to confidentiality rules?

Berserk said...

Gino: You know, I wouldn't have a problem with my name and ID number being on the site. One of those is on the PD's website anyway, and the other is on every ticket I write (as you pointed out). How are you going to stop people from posting personal information, though? And how do you expect this site to increase our responsibility for our actions? We're already held accountable by our agencies, do you really think some ravings by random nuts on the internet are going to modify that somehow?

5150Wife said...

Ok, so I had another thought while in the shower this morning (don't laugh -- I do some of my best pondering in there)

Could the site somehow impact officers who are working undercover?

My man has never worked undercover, so I'm blissfully ignorant as to how those operations work. I'm just wondering if revealing their names publicly could somehow place them at risk?

Gee, wonder how well it would go over we came up with a "ratemyinformant" site?

USAincognito said...

5150wife:
Exactly my point!!! I am "incognito" online for this very reason!! I do not need my real name and identity out for this safety reason.

gino said...

There is a mechanism for comments to be flagged.

TheBronze said...

The ratemycop website is getting a lot of press in Sacto.

5150Wife said...

Yes, they are Bronz. And I'm sure they're lovin' it.

Matt said...

I love this idea...for all you a$$holes that feel the need to pull people over for going 5 mph over the speed limit. you are all just a bunch of homers anyway that were either too poor or too stupid to go to college and decided to take it out on the community you live in. protect and serve my a$$. the only people traffic cops serve are themselves.

USAincognito said...

Matt,
Contrary to your self-centered opinion, most police officers have a Bachelor's degree (some even have a Master's degree!).
We are sworn to PROTECT the communities we serve and we do so with honor and pride. It is a high calling to answer, one that no average citizen will ever be capable of answering or understanding. We lay our lives on the line every single day so the citizens of our communities may live and sleep in peace. And, yes, that includes protecting ignorant, selfish idiots like yourself. We do so without prejudice - for it is our duty, our calling, to serve and protect ALL citizens.

Officer "Smith" said...

There always has to be one asshole in the bunch, eh Matt.

Let me let you in on a little something. I have NEVER, I'm going to repeat that for your benefit here, I HAVE NEVER written anyone a ticket for five miles over the speed limit... EVER! I would lose that one in court in half a heartbeat. I am not sure what experiences you have had with the police, however I am sure, based upon your comment, that they were not good. I can't do anything for you there bud.

However, when I am working traffic just for the sake of working traffic, I will not even LOOK at you unless you are at LEAST ten miles over the limit. Even then I am not likely to pull out on you unless you're at least 13-14 over. If you want to bitch about getting a ticket for 15 miles over the limit, get a life. If you want to bitch about getting a ticket for 5 over, you're in the wrong place.

Also, I noticed you, along with Gino, have your profile blocked. Why is that? Are you "paranoid", to use Gino's term? Why don't you want us to know anything about you?

If you want to call cops assholes, why not be a man about it and let us know who the hell you are?

And as for your half-assed comment about college, I DID AND DO go to college. Stupid people CAN'T BECOME COPS, you jackass. Maybe that's why you sit at home and play video games all day. Obviously you have no college degree as it is apparent you have no grasp of punctuation and capitalization. It's an assumption, I know, but if you want to assume we are all assholes then I guess that makes you fair game huh?

I'm not even going to do you the favor of deleting your comment from my blog. I want everyone to see what an ass you are.

Finally, for Gino, I think the biggest concern is the fact that anyone can post anonymous derogatory comments about officers on your site, completely unchecked, with complete disregard for the formal complaint process. All your site allows people to do is bypass the correct forum for bitching about officers and post bogus complaints on the internet. What is to stop any defense attorney from using these bogus "ratings" against officers in court? All I have to do, as a criminal, is tell all my friends to post negative comments about this or that officer, then show your site to my defense attorney. Just what we need. Another way for the guilty to walk free because the defense attorney was able to show some sort of bias by that officer, truthful or not.

I am sure you're loving the publicity from all of this, and I hope that is not your only reason for the site, but I still think you should listen to reason from those of us who are in the profession, and just abandon the idea before someone gets hurt.

Yes, My last name and ID number are on every cite I write. But not my first name. I do not make it a habit to give out my first name to everyone. There is only one officer at my agency with my last name, so there is no confusion if the citizen mentions my last name.

That does not make it acceptable to allow unidentified and anonymous citizens to post "ratings" of officers with no way to confirm the validity of those ratings.

Officer "Smith" said...

Also, regarding 5150wife's comment, none of our detectives are on the list, undercover or otherwise. Thank God for small favors.

Ronjii said...

THis discussion has been reasoned and fairly respectful on both sides, but I was waiting for something putrid to float up from the stagnant end of the gene pool- hi, Matt!

Berserk said...

Oh, well as long as there's a "mechanism" then I guess we can all sleep soundly. Seriously, how do you really intend to keep personal information off the site?

Matt said...

Looks like a shopping center for cop killers...horray! Youtube is great to out the one asshole a month that steps over line on the job and wants to taze a helpless kid or brutally beat up kids for skateboarding... but this is excellent. Here in philadelphia we know how to handle cops...we sneek up on them in their cars while they are taking their donuts naps and put a cap in their ass

m said...

I read an article that said no undercover cops would be listed. Hmmm. I work undercover and I was listed as well as the rest of my team. Nothing good can come out of listing everyones names. Why don't they have a rate my crook website?

TheBronze said...

RMC has been taken down by GoDaddy.

Stay classy, Matt! <-Internet Tough-Guy.

Since sneaking up on a cop is the only way you could do it...

USAincognito said...

Sweet!! I am thrilled that the site was finally taken down!

5150Wife said...

I just went to it and it's still up. Me's confused

TheBronze said...

I read an article that RMC was taken down by GoDaddy and it was in fact not working last night. Either GoDaddy changed their minds or they got a new hosting service.

Officer "Smith" said...

As of this post, rate my cop is up and running.

36 y/o emptiness said...

The originator of that website could give a crap less. He's going to make thousands, if not millions on this site from advertisers.

If you listen to the tone of the introduction on their site, their true intentions become clear. They say in effect that people need a place to vent their opinions without fear of retaliation. Fear? If this person held a positive image of law enforcement, he would not use such terminology.

Like Grossman says, the sheep hate us because we have sharp teeth, just like the wolves. Too bad lots of them are too stupid to realize that we are all that stands between them and the wolves.

Berserk said...

I'm kinda digging Matt's comments. I don't think I could have ever made a case about the kind of person who supports RMC nearly as well as he did.

Thomas said...

The one thing I would like to say is that there is a feeling among some people that there are cops who take advantage of their positions of power and hurt regular citizens. I think that on a website like Ratemycop police officers will recieve unfair bad ratings, but, like say... ratemyprofessor, it will be easy to tell which officers are worse than others because they will get more bad ratings. I think there does need to be a higher level of accountability among police officers (after all if you hurt the sheep with your sharp teeth how are you any better than the wolves?) and this may be the only way that that is possible. Plus the problems your bringing up aren't exactly site killers. They're more along the lines of tweaks which could be made to the site to make it better. For instance it would be great if people were given the ability to rate the truth level of each comment and if there was a way for officers to reply directly to accusations and explain what they were doing. That is one way the site could create more understanding rather than negativity. Also it would be great if there was say a place on the site where cops could give the administrators an email address so they'll always know when someone is talking about them.
As for the information thing, this information is publicly available anyway so it is difficult to see how this site is going to lead to police officers getting killed. If someone wants to go to the trouble of hunting you down and hurting you I don't think the added convenience of this site in that process is really all that great since this theoretical person could just go and find your name and badge number out of local public records and they probably would do this if they were that determined to hurt you.
Lastly, I have to say that what mat said is, well, incredibly ignorant and stupid, there are bad cops and there are good cops just like there are bad and good people. They have a lot of stress in their lives and their jobs can be incredibly difficult. It is stupid to act so insensibly and your sorts of comments are exactly the type which I will be ignoring if ratemycop ever does become a successful website.

Berserk said...

I don't think "truth ratings" would be all that helpful a feature. After all, everyone who is in a position to actually know which comments are truthful is probably going to be biased, either for or against the officers.

More importantly, there are already mechanisms in place for holding us accountable for our actions. I can't see how this could really do anything except either muddy the water, or just become an entirely irrelevant bitching session.

I do like the idea of officers being allowed to respond to comments, but the reality is that I wouldn't bother. After all, I'd be putting my real name and identity on the line against some anonymous critic. Worse, there are limits to what I can and can't say, and anything I do choose to put on the site could easily be construed as an attempt to represent the my departments position without authorization. After all, I'd be discussing actions taken in the official course of my duties.

So, yeah, don't like it. I doubt it will be an incredible danger to us (as long as personal information isn't posted, still a real fear), but I can't see how it could possibly be helpful or foster any understanding. The playing field is just too uneven.

WW said...

Well, as of now, the site is down, it redirects you to a dollhouse seller.

WW said...

At least when i try to go to it in IE. My friend said she can go to it in Firefox.

Officer "Smith" said...

I use Firefox, and I can still bring it up.

Hammer said...

It doesn't really mater what officer Smith or any of the rest of you think about the website because we live in a country where the people have rights an the first one in the list is the right of free speech. That website has every legal right to exist, whether you like it or not.

Those of you talking about cops safety don't know what you're talking about because the site doesn't publish any information about a police officer that anyone can't find in the public records already. Before you talk about something, you should really know what you're talking about. Most of you are posting knee jerk reactions to things you'ver "heard", (called hearsay and inadmissible in court) and are not responding to actual facts you've learned first hand.

I've got an open letter posted on my site to all members of RateMyCop.com that are currently unable to post on that site to post their gripes on my site, Ventibate dot com, until Gino's comes back online.

Gino said...

The dollhouse issue should be resolved now.

Hammer, thanks for pointing out that no information will be posted on this site that is not accesible through a public records requests. If any personal info is ever posted i want to hear about it asap.

Final note, I am extremely encouraged to see a good mix of citizens and officers using the site so far. There are some major kinks that need to be fixed, but we have a good start.

Officer "Smith" said...

As I have said before, my biggest gripe with the site is the fact that anyone can ANONYMOUSLY post bogus comments without fear of reprisal.

Freedom of speech does not allow one to post falsely derogatory information about a person, whether a peace officer or not. This is called libel, and it is illegal.

If there was some way to confirm the identity of all posters on the site, as a hedge against them falsely complaining about a police officer simply because that officer wrote them a ticket, I think it would ease a lot of the complaints about the site.

Chop Sui said...

Why? Its an opinion based site where people are free to give their opinions about how you, a public servant do your job. All the information is public information that can be obtained by anyone. I think that you guys are trying to stifle out freedom of speech this site doesn't put you in any kind of danger, but rather allows people to contribute their opinions. Just because common lowly citizens can now criticize your work ethic and job suddenly that is a bad thing? You guys are hypocrites! YOUR A BLOGGER, you criticize public servants all the time.

likestoshare said...

one shouldn't worry about this site harming the police at all as it is now controlled by police and all free speech and police bashing are being censored...cops are of course free to smart-off to the sheep all they want.....

Officer "Smith" said...

liketoshare,

Where did you come up with the harebrained idea that Ratemycop is controlled by the police now? I just checked, and people are still posting biased and unconfirmable ratings against officers.

As for cops being able to "smart off to the sheep all they want", the interesting thing is that your so called "sheep" can smart off to the cops too, as long as they don't obstruct the officer from doing their job, or threaten any harm to anyone.

Thanks for posting. You'd fit right in on ratemycop.

likestoshare said...

Officer Smith,

I respectfully submit to you that you should review the facts about the RateMyCop site and who is controlling it.

Likestoshare

Officer "Smith" said...

Well then, perhaps you can point me in the right direction as to where I can research your claims.

Based upon the about us section on the web site "RATEMYCOP.com is a privately-held company based in Los Angeles."

It appears to be run by a publicity agency, not that I'm surprised, based upon the e-mail address on the same page "crys@polarispublicity.com"

During my exchanges with Gino, as you can read above, it seems pretty clear to me that the site is certainly NOT run by the police.

Please explain.

Officer "Smith" said...

Oh, and Gino Sesto is touted as having a 15+ year advertising background according to Dallas Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog. I am not surprised the founder of THAT blog LOVES ratemycop.

likestoshare said...

ok let's start with the fact that ratemycop has an "Officer only" forum.

But by the same token has no "Officers out" forums..i.e. a forum they cannot bully people in...and can only "listen."

as far as slander goes, the Police practice this everyday in the normal course of the work that they do, byt repeating a prpoagating untruths about people and are in fact immune from slander charges...I call it the police practicing "common Knowledge."

more later..thank you for your response BTW.

Sincerely,
Likestoshare