The Ventura County Star reports that although the California-based website RateMyCop.com is similar to those that allow people to rate teachers and professors, it's drawn strong criticism from a statewide police chiefs' organization, and local law enforcement authorities say they have serious reservations about it, primarily because it allows people to make anonymous allegations about officers.
Crombach said he encourages people to go directly to police officials with both compliments and complaints. "If you want to rate a cop, come down to your local police department."
But to "rate," defined in the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary as "to determine or assign the relative rank or class of" something or someone, is precisely what filing a complaint with the police department does not accomplish. Your complaint about officer conduct, much less any determination after internal investigation, is never disclosed by the department. You are entitled by law to a copy of your complaint at the time you file it, and that allows you to notify the public about it, and maybe even to disclose what you learn later as a witness in any investigative proceeding.
But thanks to lobbying by police unions and associations of law enforcement executives like Chief Crombach, the official word on whether a citizen complaint has any factual basis has been, as Ed McMahon used to say, "hermetically sealed" by law from public access.
At least RateMyCop.com allows people to post compliments about named officers as well as complaints for all to see. Given the legal secrecy that cops have insisted their performance be given in government records, they have nothing to carp about when citizens post their own opinions.