Police protect, serve … and now get rated
New Web site allows users to rank, comment on Valley police officers
by Matt Culbertson
published on Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Students with strong opinions about individual local police officers have a new place to take their comments: the Internet.
Ratemycop.com, a Los Angeles-based site, was launched Wednesday night and has already received about 100,000 page views, including about 20,000 unique visitors, said Rebecca Costell, vice president and co-founder.
On the site, visitors can rate more than 120,000 police officers from more than 40 states, Costell said.
Officers are given ratings based on authority, satisfaction and fairness. The Web site lists more than 4,000 names from the Phoenix, Tempe, Peoria and Gilbert police departments.
Ratemycop.com provides police officers' full names from about 450 law-enforcement agencies, Costell said. It also lists serial and badge numbers where information is available.
Costell said the information was obtained by request from departments around the country.
The site, which she described as an "online feedback forum," is not "anti-cop," Costell said.
"We're neutral," she said. "We're not after anybody."
The site is meant for both positive and negative feedback and has measures in place to prevent abuse, such as limiting the amount of posts a user can make each week, Costell said.
Costell added that there are already "rate-my-everything-else" Web sites on the Internet, referring to sites like Ratemyprofessor.com.
But Cmdr. Jim Hardina of the ASU Police Department, which is not included on the site, said it would be better to go directly to a department with any comments.
"ASU and Tempe Police and every other department in the Valley want feedback," he said. "Just like any organization, you improve any time you get constructive criticism."
A third-party Web site could be unreliable, Hardina said.
"How is that going to affect any kind of change?" he said. "It would be better to deal directly with the department."
Feedback from the public is a good thing, Hardina said.
"You need the public to keep tabs on the police department," he said.
Tempe Police Sgt. Cindy Davies did not specifically comment on the Web site, but she said any time information such as the names and numbers of officers is available to the public, the police department would take steps to ensure the safety of its officers.
"The safety and protection of our staff is really of paramount importance to us," she said.
Tempe's chief of police, Tom Ryff, will be speaking with other chiefs of police and a legal adviser regarding the public's access to information about police officers, Davies said.
But Ryff will not necessarily be acting in response to Ratemycop.com when he meets with other law enforcement agencies, she added.
"We just want to do due diligence," Davies said.
Mike Schmidt, a secondary education graduate student, said he thinks the Web site is a good idea and would probably use the site if he received a traffic ticket.
He said he would be more likely to contribute to Ratemycop.com if he had something negative to say.
"It's always good for people to voice their opinions," Schmidt said.
But political science junior Samuel Madrigal said he didn't see a point to the Web site and would rather speak to the police department to voice an opinion.
Ratemycop.com presents a "double-edged sword," he said.
"Things can get out of hand … especially if it's anonymous," Madrigal said.
But Costell, of Ratemycop.com , said the Web site is a way for the public to have their voices heard, as well as an attempt to break negative stereotypes about police officers.
"[Police] understand they work for the public," she said.
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