It was an interesting month's worth of effort, but ultimately there wasn't enough interest to justify the time it takes to write up the feeds, few people were actually reading them. (though, one person did write to say they did find them interesting, thanks for that!)
But, even though I'm going to stop using Twitter since there aren't many people reading the feeds, the practice of recording these articles did help me notice something interesting...
Over the month-long effort of tracking stories of police misconduct and detainee abuse I've recorded at least 79 unique stories of police misconduct or detainee abuse.
Yes, 79 incidents reported in the news in one month's worth of time.
Of these reports:
- 10 articles covered 15 separate officers who were convicted of criminal acts. 2 of those officers will return to work with the same department after conviction.
- 29 stories that covered the trial, arrest, indictment, or charges filed against 39 police officers and 3 police chiefs.
- 12 stories about civil rights lawsuits against police departments, 3 of which resulted in awards totaling $1,625,000.
- 28 stories detailing accusations of police misconduct, 8 of which were captured on video.
- 3 Articles detailing investigations into jails accused of violating the rights of prisoners, including one against Seattle's King County Jail which is already under federal oversight for past rights violations.
Further breaking these down I found that, of these stories:
- 10 covered cases of alleged murder or attempted murder. 8 of which resulted in at least one death.
- 11 concerned allegations of or convictions for sexual abuse of children.
- 24 involve allegations of police brutality.
- 8 deal with allegations of domestic violence
- 14 cases where entire teams, sections, or an entire department has been accused of systematic abuses. One of which has a city contemplating dissolving their police department.
- 2 involve questionable police actions taken against people who report on issues of police misconduct.
- 3 involve police departments who were forced to rehire officers after sustained findings or convictions for misconduct.
Many articles I didn't track involve officers accused of petty offenses and acts of misconduct like traffic accidents, falsifying overtime records, or other interdepartmental infractions. Also, there are undoubtedly several I missed because there are so many different keywords to track and filter.
So, are these just a few bad eggs in an otherwise healthy basket? Are 79 distinct cases reported in the press in a single month a sign of a healthy law enforcement system in the US?
Even though I'm going to stop using Twitter, I still think it's important for me to continue keeping count in order to see just how pervasive and systemic police misconduct really is in the US and give a summary each month. So I'll be recording what I find in a database in order to generate some useful statistics on police misconduct in America. Statistics that nobody else has really bothered to gather in any serious way up to now.
What do you think?