GoDaddy Closes Down Police Officer Rating Site RateMyCop.com

Following complaints about police officer safety based on concerns that the policeman (policeperson?) rating site ratemycop.com (that’s Rate My Cop .com, get it?) posed a danger to law enforcement personnel because it outed the full roster, including names and badge numbers, of police officers at nearly 500 police departments around the country (to the tune of some 140,000 police officers), RateMyCop’s host – GoDaddy – unceremoniously and without warning pulled the plug on the site.

So who is in the wrong here, GoDaddy for pulling the site (and without warning, to boot), or RateMyCop for carelessly and callously collecting and publishing the names, police departments and badge numbers of 140,000 men and women in blue?

To quote that famous Buffalo Springfield song, we say nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong.

But first, a little story:

“A little over 20 years ago, on my first ever visit to San Jose, California, I found myself lost in a maze of seemingly identical residential streets as dusk fell. Anxious to reach my destination on time, my spirits rose a little at the sight of a small convenience store, and higher yet to see an idling black and white police cruiser parked just outside. I approached on foot, making eye contact with the officer behind the wheel, my hands held in plain view (no fool I. I’d seen Dirty Harry.) “Excuse me officer,” said I, “but could you please point me in the direction of [long-forgotten street name]?” I was so stunned at his response: “Go buy a [f-word deleted] map,” that I went into the convenience store and bought a [f-word deleted] map.

18 months ago, by now living in California, I had another brush with a police officer, this one serving in the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety, as he took a statement from me after I was the victim of a considerable theft. Like chalk and cheese were these experiences; this second officer was a model of professionalism, efficiency, and politeness. He made the whole experience somehow less ghastly, and I wrote to his superiors of my gratitude.

 

Two very different experiences, no? I’m sure that many of you fine readers have had equally polarized interactions with law enforcement, though I fervently hope – and in all fairness I believe this to be the case – the cumulative experience is skewed towards the latter. So what should we all think about GoDaddy yesterday unceremoniously shuttering RateMyCop.com?

“RateMyWhat?-dot-com?”, I thought I heard you mutter. RateMyCop.com, that site that for about two weeks has – sorry, that should be had – let users search through those 140,000 records of uniformed police officers from those almost 500 police agencies nationwide. Searches that could be by name, department, city and in some cases badge number, and users were then able to rate the officer on authority, fairness and satisfaction.

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The reaction from police chiefs and other law enforcement groups was immediate. The general view was that by exposing this information to the public, officers could be “at increased risk, or put in danger” or “unfairly maligned”. To both charges I respond with sympathy, but I hope the former is a little over-reaching (not much though, with the ability to search a wide variety of records for name, address, family members, etc. – or even to just look at the entire roster of a police department and take them out, one by one), and the latter could be addressed with a system of review, rebuttal and rating removal.

The reaction from GoDaddy does seem to have been rather heavy-handed. Without warning, GoDaddy simply replaced the entire RateMyCop.com site with a single page saying “oops” and asking the domain name owner to call them. I muse whether this is not a little too knee-jerky or not.

There are, of course, bad police officers, as there are bad doctors, bad teachers, bad politicians (redundancy there?) and bad bank tellers. And there are procedures in all cases to complain, require review, and if necessary pursue in the courts. So while I can only shake my head and wonder at the wisdom of the site’s founders, and their motivation for creating such an obvious magnet for dissatisfied and disgruntled members of the public, I don’t think any participant – other than the officers themselves – emerges from this whole episode unscathed. To collate and publish such information has a whiff of opportunism and recklessness, while the over-reaction of GoDaddy reeks of kowtowing to behind-the-scenes pressure.

So back to my own interactions with law enforcement. Officer A had me wondering who had micturated on his morning muffin, but I wouldn’t have attempted to get his name and badge number so I could wrote about how rude he was on a Cop Or Not web site. Discretion being the better part of valor, and all that. I just thought he was a poor excuse for a public servant, and went on my way pitying him. As for Officer B, the right few words in the ear of his superior was worth more to me – and no doubt to him – than writing even the most glowing review on a rather tawdry web site, the opinions of which count, when it all comes down to it, for naught.”

In the end, again, neither RateMyCop.com nor GoDaddy really can be said to be 100% in the right here – and, therefore, neither 100% in the wrong.

At least, that’s how we see it.

What do you think?

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9 Replies to “GoDaddy Closes Down Police Officer Rating Site RateMyCop.com”

  1. Having been a Deputy Sheriff for the last 17 years I think the sight is a good idea. The officers I have spoken with didn’t have a problem with the sight. As long as an officer remembers to treat people like they would have a member of their family treated there should be nothing to worry about. Maybe this could somehow be used to influence political elections and point out to the power that be the officers who actual take their careers seriously.

  2. You make it sound so easy to go and complain. Unfortunately not everyone in this society get the same treatment. If you have a family member say a adult child who has a record and is know by your Police Dept it is extremely difficult to get the form to file a complaint to begin with. As a matter of fact I will be walking into my Police Dept. tomorrow to ask for this form for what I believe was inappropriate actions done to a 3yr old and 4yr old child in my home. I can bet you money that they are going to try to refuse to give me the form. But I will not leave without one. I will first ask with humble tone but if denied I will demand one and to speak with the Watch Commander on duty. I am a person who documents everything and this will not be the first complaint. I could tell you of horrifing stories but you probably wouldn’t believe it so I won’t. I had use this site about 3 or 4 yrs ago just to use as a second way of documenting besides the form that the Police Dept give you and believe me it took more than one trip to the Police Dept and not till I told them to check the website to see that I put it out there that they were refusing to give me the form did they finally give me one. I was never told the out come but all the nonscience they were doing to me and my family did come to a stop. So in my opinion yes there are people who want to abuse the site. There is also those people who like myself just needed a place to complain that I couldn’t get my from Police Dept and had to endure Police retaliation for a brief period till a neighbor step in and was witness to what was going on. So in my case when I complain things get worse before they get better but I thank God that eventually if I complain long enough I find a someone in the Dept that will do the right thing but it usually comes with a price. I really do hope things go smoothly tomorrow but I’m doubtful from past experience.

  3. As a sworn police officer in a very large, busy city, I have met thousands of people over my career. I have arrested several people that were kind, polite, and sympathetic with my duties as a peace officer. Saying that, I have also been victim to the other half of the community. I have arrested people that have assaulted me, spit in my face, ran from me, and on one occassion, attempted to kill me. If there was more to gaurantee officer saftey or even anonymity, I would be all for this site. As it is right now, I will do everything in my power to keep my information off of that website. I hope that it doesnt take an incident where someone is hurt or killed before the site is looked at more carefully.

    To LB, Lee, and Alex,

    Im sorry that you cant understand that Police Officers dont like this site because of the fear of reprisal against ourselves and our family. Its a good thing the police are there to protect you when you and/or your families are in danger.

  4. I always find it funny that the officers are so resistant of investigations into what THEY do, yet like to treat others with a “if you have nothing to hide, you shouldn’t mind being questioned” mentality. Just as the criminals they arrest, police should also have to live with the negative images they create for themselves.

  5. This is to “lee” and everyone that thinks like him. Yes police officers are public servents and many things are considered open records. In the academy we were taught that we live in glass houses, so be careful what you do and how you act. But that said, the reason for the chiefs and other officer’s being upset about ratemycop.com is this “FAMILY” Ok you may have the right to know my name because of open records, but you DO NOT have the right to know my wife’s name and my children’s name.
    The reason I say this is my family has the right of privacy and to be safe from those that would reprise against my through them. Case in point, my wife stops to get gas at local convience store has my young child with her, two large men pull up at the pump beside her. She over hears them saying that is that asshole cops wife, the one that arrested me. The person that said that promised to get even with me when he got out of jail. So I ask this should my wife and children have to put there life at risk because some website thinks its ok to post personal infromation about me? I think not. Or how about when kids are told not to play with my child becuase the parents found out he is the child of a police officer, explain that to a young child. Try and tell your young child why the kids that where playing with him yesterday cant play with him anymore? Lets see son that kid cant play with you because his parents saw your daddy on ratemycop.com. And no I would not be an officer that would get a bad rating, for your information I am a very compassionate officer, I will spend three hours talking to you about someone keying your car if you need it. So all that being said even police officers have a right to protect their family’s safety and privacy.

  6. i’m not a police officer, although in my former trade i worked armed, but the poster above saying:
    “Actually, the police are public servants. There is suppose to be nothing secret about them or the jobs they perform. Since they are paid for by the public, its ALL a matter of public record.”
    is wrong, most police work can be “public record” but not all, undercover investigations of ongoing crimes/conspiracies, investigations of crimes where evidence might be hidden or destroyed compromising the investigation, etc. i do agree that the administration of a police department should be open to public scrutiny.
    “gunner”

  7. My wife was stopped for speeding (10 over the limit) by a very rude police officer 18 years ago. He was rude and demeaning to her and she complained to the Chief of Police. About 5 years ago an officer from the same department stopped her and was a model of professionalism. He did issue her a summons for no insurance after she went through a red light. He didn’t cite her for the red light, and the insurance citation was dismissed upon showing proof that she had insurance.
    The interesting point of this is that when she went to the court to show she had insurance she realized that this was the same officer who had been so rude to her several years before.
    The lesson behind this is that we all have bad days and sometimes new officers don’t have the compassion that is gained with years on the job.
    I know this to be true after spending 37 years in law enforcement before retiring.

  8. Actually, the police are @public servants. There is suppose to be nothing secret about them or the jobs they perform. Since they are paid for by the public, its ALL a matter of public record. If it were all kept secret, then they would be the Gestapo. I’m sure many officers would aspire to Gestapo agents,but fortunately for us,this is America. I see nothing wrong with the web site. Being law enforcement is an inherently dangerous job, both on duty and off. I assume they realized this when they signed up. If they are good clean cops, then they have nothing to hide anyway. Only the dirty ones need to skulk in the shadows. So if the Chiefs are complaining, what does that tell you.

  9. Looks like it is back up today. Seems GoDaddy might have been clued into Amendment #1 of The Bill of Rights.

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