Restoring the site took much longer than anticipated but it is now primed and ready to build the national database of bad cops we’ve been hyping up since the beginning of the year.
The PINAC Brady Cop Project is a longterm investigative journalism project that will depend on citizens throughout the country volunteering as national correspondents to obtain public records from local prosecutors.
The records we will be seeking are commonly known as the “Brady List” or “Giglio Files” or “do not call list” – names of cops too corrupt to take the witness stand – but many prosecutors will feign ignorance, claiming the records do not exist or are not public. As a result, these dirty cops take the witness stand all the time, sending innocent people to prison.
So it’s not going to be a matter of simply walking into the prosecutor’s office and walking out a few minutes later with the records. It’s going to take persistence, research and maybe even a few lawsuits. And it’s going to take patience and professionalism to keep from being arrested or worse.
After all, government officials hate it when citizens seek public records. They view it as prying into their private affairs. They especially hate it when you walk in with a camera seeking public records.
But nothing we will do will be illegal. That would defeat the whole purpose of the project so we must remain smart.
The skills we will teach you during this project will enable you to seek all kinds of public records from your local government which hopefully will start a nationwide trend of citizens auditing their local governments through public records requests. The goal is to place the government in the hands of the people where it belongs.
The idea is to “Be the Media” as we’ve been preaching for years which is essential during a time when local media no longer has the resources to investigate local government. It’s about trusting yourself to find the truth rather than complaining about the media not providing that truth.
The first step was rebuilding the website because it was in shambles. The database was so corrupt that we were unable to login to the site for the past several weeks, a result of having migrated to so many different platforms in the past 14 years, not to mention thousands of spam comments allowed by our previous platform, the Maven, right before they handed it back to us.
The second step was implementing forums to establish an online community away from Facebook because the social media giant has been clamping down on our reach since 2017 to appease the government to keep from being regulated. Facebook will never allow this project to succeed.
We may have more than 300,000 followers but Facebook rarely gives us access to more than five percent of those readers on any given day.
Facebook claims we must be restricted because we write about “social issues” which is their way of saying police abuse but it has cost us more than $100,000 in ad revenue since 2017 and it is the main reason we are switching from a for-profit business model to a nonprofit which will allow us to focus on quality over quantity.
The third step will be the podcast which will allow us to dive deep into the topic through interviews and analysis. We plan to launch by early November.
The fourth step is all of us coming together to make this happen. PINAC News will do its part by publishing stories and podcasts relevant to the issue as well as hosting the forums but we need citizens to donate money and time. We especially need attorneys who can advise us and file lawsuits when needed.
But even if you can’t afford to donate, you can still help the cause by sharing our content and spreading the word that we are taking this police accountability movement to another level.
For now, please take a look through the site and let us know what you think. There is still much work to be done. Many of the older articles lack photos but we have the photos and will replace them before the end of the year. It’s a monumentous task because there are more than 5,000 photos and it must all be done manually but we’re happy having all our content under our control.
We were also able to integrate the database from the earliest blogging days in 2007 when PINAC was hosted on a WordPress site (rather than self-hosted) which had been removed during a previous migration about ten years ago.
Some of you longtime readers may remember those early days when PINAC had a mission to teach the world that photography was not a crime during a time when it was viewed as a crime. Now we’re just expanding on that mission.