One challenge of collecting data on officers accused of misconduct is how the data might be used. There is a difference, for example, between the quantity of reports and the quality of reports. An officer may have numerous reports on file making the quantity of reports high. However, once the quality of the reports is more closely examined, it may be determined that the reports have little or no quality.
Another concern might be that once an officer has reports in the database they are labeled as a bad person. The consequence being that bad people cannot work in law enforcement, or perhaps, the criminal justice system.
The question is not so much whether or not bad people should or ought to work in law enforcement. The question is how do we evidence that someone is a bad person. The answer is that we cannot. We cannot legally determine that someone is a bad person and therefore not suitable to serve without sliding into the mire of the “rule of man” as opposed to the “rule of law” that is an establishing noble principle of the United States. Qualifying a person based on the rule of man is arbitrary in that it is subject to change based on the rule person, party, or regime. The rule of man is not based on established and known rules and determinations are based more on a personal whim (often based on loyalty) than evidence. Whether or not someone is a good person depends much more on keeping the ruler’s favor than the character of the person. Historically, the “rule of man” has, without exception, resulted in human rights violations and death.
How the information in a national law enforcement database is used should be safeguarded. These safeguards should not lean toward limiting access which pushes against the rule of law. Instead, these safeguards should include due process and liberal private actions for law enforcement officers for wrongful use of the data.
The database should further allow for law enforcement officers to make rehabilitation entries. Where an officer can evidence that they have done rehabilitation work successfully, it should be considered during hiring and retention decisions.
Revised June 24, 2020