Web site rates Missouri, national police
Ratemycop.com lets citizens post comments anonymously.
Apr. 01, 2008
Missouri police have been rated. Ratemycop.com, a California-based Web site, lets citizens rate individual police officers and post comments about police behavior. Citizens can give officers ratings of poor, average or good and explain their ratings. All ratings and postings are anonymous. “We have no access to who posts what,” Web site spokeswoman Crys Spelman said. Citizens have access to any personal information that appears on the Web site. Gino Sesto created the Web site after discussing police encounters with a friend during dinner one night, Spelman said. “They realized every American has had different encounters with the police,” Spelman said. Ratemycop.com has been used to rate the Columbia Police Department, the Boone County Sheriff’s Department and the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Citizens have rated officers from each department, with ratings in each category. Officers in the Columbia Police Department have received varied ratings. One officer received a poor rating in all three categories, the Web site stated. While citizens have made use of the Web site, police have not. The sheriff’s department doesn’t have a policy to handle the Web site. “People can develop Web sites as they wish,” Boone County Sheriff’s Maj. Tom Reddin said. While police don’t monitor the Web site, they appreciate citizen input. “A complaint holds more weight if it isn’t done anonymously, but we appreciate the input,” Reddin said. Three officers received a good rating for all three categories. None received lower evaluations, stated the Web site. The sheriff’s department probably won’t use ratemycop.com to evaluate its officers, he said. The Missouri State Highway Patrol doesn’t use the Web site either. “It isn’t a system we use,” MSHP Capt. Tim Hull said. “We send out a public opinion survey to 1,000 random individuals.” These public opinion surveys are then used in officer evaluations. Their immediate supervisors evaluate officers in the Highway Patrol once a year to monitor their behavior. While the Web site is not used to monitor officers in the Highway Patrol, there is a way to file complaints with the department. “Any complaints need to come through our professional standards division,” Hull said. The Highway Patrol’s Web site directs citizens on how to file a complaint through the professional standards division. Over 10 officers in the Highway Patrol have received a good rating for all three categories and none received poor ratings, stated the Web site. Citizen and police reaction to ratemycop.com has varied. “Responses have been all over the map,” Spelman said. Responses by police departments have varied as well, she said. The Web site has not caused many problems with police departments in Missouri but the Los Angeles Police Department has been opposed to the Web site. “Chief of Police Association is very opposed to the Web site and they have been outspoken against it,” Spelman said. While California police have called for the Web site to be shut down, Spelman said it is protected by the First Amendment.