Anybody who has read this site over the years should know that police departments throughout the country will protect their own bad cops before protecting the good citizens of their communities despite the laughable rhetoric that they are only out to protect and serve.
By “bad,” we mean cops who abuse, intimidate and lie as they destroy innocent lives.
By “good,” we mean citizens willing to stand up for their Constitutional rights.
But we have only been scratching at the surface of the toxic nature that permeates police culture by focusing mostly on the violent cops captured in viral videos. Incidents once described by police as “isolated” before the videos became daily occurrences, surfacing on any number of sites at any given time, exposing a systemic pattern of policing that is more about control and dominance than about safety and protection.
As I explain in the above video, our plan for 2021 is to expand our mission of Little Brother Watching Big Brother by building a national database of bad cops who destroy lives through their lies on the witness stand, sending innocent people to prison with the help of ambitious prosecutors who withhold evidence that would benefit the defendant.
But we’re going to need your help in doing that because we’re going to need foot soldiers in every state and county to obtain the public records from local prosecutors that includes the names of these dirty cops.
These cops are known as “Brady list” cops, a term that stems from the 1963 Supreme Court case, Brady vs. Maryland, that states prosecutors must disclose the names of dirty cops to defendants whose fate lies in their testimony in order to ensure due process – something they rarely do.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, these cops have “histories of falsifying reports, fabricating or tampering with evidence, lying on the witness stand, coercing witnesses, brutalizing people, accruing misconduct lawsuits or complaints, blatant racism, and more,” so they are no different than the cops we’ve been writing about all these years.
Our plan is to create a series of educational videos that will teach readers how to obtain these public records from local prosecutors. We will then add the names to the database which would be accessible to the general public.
By making the names of these dirty cops public, we can help protect innocent people from dirty cops. Otherwise, they will continue sending innocent people to prison.
Joining the project is Jeffrey Gray of Honor Your Oath whose First Amendment audits on YouTube have inspired countless camera-wielding activists to launch their own YouTube channels.
Also joining is Jacob Crawford who co-founded We Copwatch in 2000, a national organization dedicated to educating citizens about their right to record cops in public. Between the three of us, we have more than 50 years of holding police accountable.
This is a project that has been years in the planning but we’re launching it now because it was only last month that we completed all the paperwork to be approved for accepting tax-deductible donations through a fiscal sponsorship, allowing us to operate as a 501 (c) (3) until we become one ourselves.
Operating the site as a non-profit will allow us to produce more quality journalism because we will have the time to produce such journalism. Operating under a for-profit business model where we are dependent solely on ad revenue has become impossible due to social media platforms that restrict our reach to our readership.
The overall plan for 2021 is as follows:
- Produce more original journalism – We plan to continue writing the same articles we’ve always done but to include more Zoom video interviews with police abuse victims and attorneys, allowing them to tell their stories and show how anybody can become a victim of police abuse at any given moment by coming across the wrong cop. These may be stories picked up by other media sites but we plan to take the extra steps with these interviews to set our stories apart from the rest.
- Produce more investigative journalism – In addition to the daily journalism, we will work on investigative projects on government malfeasance and corruption through our public records requests, projects that may take weeks or months before they are published but will shine light on issues that had been kept secret from the public, and hopefully lead to changes and reform.
- Produce a series of educational videos – Once we publish the investigative projects, we will break them down into video lessons that will teach our readers how they can apply the same investigative techniques to their own investigative projects into their local government agencies. The educational videos will also show you how to obtain the Brady lists from local prosecutors.
- Build a database of “Brady list” cops – This is a project that will require a lifetime commitment to maintain which is why it is important to obtain nonprofit status but it will serve the public good by helping protect innocent people from dirty cops.
- Build a mobile app that would notify readers when our stories are published – This would allow us to bypass social media restrictions to reach our readers which would lead to more ad revenue and economic sustainability.
The first step in making all this happen is to raise enough money for full-time salaries for our team, enabling us to focus all our attention on this very important mission. We are confident that once we start applying for grants and donations through foundations, we will receive the funding to allow us achieve our mission but it can take several months before we are approved.
But for now, it is you, the readers, who can help kickstart the project through donations. And once we start operating, then the readers will play a huge role by obtaining the Brady lists from local prosecutors.
Earlier this week, KJZZ in Utah reported that “Utah prosecutors and police departments are failing to keep ‘Brady lists’ intended to keep track of police officers who have documented histories of dishonesty.”
Last year, investigative reporter Dave Biscobing ABC 15 in Arizona published several pages of Brady list cops from that state after a year-long investigation determined “Arizona law enforcement officials have routinely failed to adequately track dishonest and disreputable police officers, disclose their misconduct in criminal cases, and hold them accountable.”
In 2019, USA Today conducted its own investigation and concluded the following:
- Thousands of people have faced criminal charges or gone to prison based in part on testimony from law enforcement officers deemed to have credibility problems by their bosses or by prosecutors.
- At least 300 prosecutors’ offices across the nation are not taking steps necessary to comply with the Supreme Court mandates. These places do not have a list tracking dishonest or otherwise untrustworthy officers. They include big cities such as Chicago and Little Rock and smaller communities such as Jackson County, Minnesota, and Columbia County, Pennsylvania.
- In many places that keep lists, police and prosecutors refuse to make them public, making it impossible to know whether they are following the law.
- Others keep lists that are incomplete. USA TODAY identified at least 1,200 officers with proven histories of lying and other serious misconduct who had not been flagged by prosecutors. Of those officers, 261 were specifically disciplined for dishonesty on the job.
The challenge is that these lists are continually updated so any attempts at transparency must be continually updated which is why it makes sense to approach this project as a non-profit where it becomes a full-time job rather than a one-time investigative piece.
We will be open to partnering with other media companies as well as the ACLU on this project because it is going to be a monumental task but it would serve the public good.
What sets us apart from the other news site is you, our readers, who will become our foot soldiers in this project. Our goal is to normalize these requests so any citizen can obtain these lists without any hassle.