A USA TODAY Network investigation uncovered records of thousands of police officers investigated for serious misconduct. “…we’re releasing a searchable database of the most cut-and-dried cases of troubled cops—30,000 officers from 44 states who were decertified by state oversight agencies. Decertification essentially bans those officers from carrying a badge anywhere in the state. Their infractions run the gamut. They’ve beaten members of the public, planted evidence, and used their badges to harass women. Others have lied, stolen, dealt drugs, driven drunk, abused spouses, and pursued relationships with minors, among a wide range of other infractions, depending on the aggressiveness of their state’s rules for police behavior. For years, a private police organization has cobbled the states’ lists of decertifications together into a nationwide clearinghouse and encouraged police agencies to use it for screening new hires. But that list is kept secret from anyone outside law enforcement.
USA TODAY requested the records about banned officers from all 50 states by filing requests under state sunshine laws, obtaining records from 44 states so far. The information includes the officers’ names, the department they were working for when they lost their certification and—in most cases—at least a vague summary of the reasons why. The list is incomplete because of the absence of records from states like California, which has the largest number of law enforcement officers in the U.S. The level of oversight varies widely from state to state. While Georgia and Florida decertified thousands of police officers for everything from crimes to serious questions about their fitness to serve, other states banned almost none….”