Over a decade ago, in the mid 1990s, I had a subcontract gig to fix a broken backup for an early web message board. The users were mainly from the northeastern US. And they were all cops.
The owner of the site would check the credentials of all the users, to make sure they were actually real police officers. He then outsourced the technical operation of the site to technical contractors. To people like the sysadmin who subcontracted to me to fix the broken backup system.
The operating sysadmin picked me for the gig in part because he thought I would find the site content illuminating, and encouraged me to read it. I read all the message boards posts via the database. Post after post of cops chattering among themselves, thinking they were "safe", thinking only "brother officers" would read their words, telling each other on-the-job stories, and expressing stomach churning levels of bigotry and hatred, and sharing tips and tricks for all sorts of ways engaging in small and medium scale corruption, thuggishness, theft from the public, fraud on the court, techniques for abusing the people they were detaining and arresting, and why it was ok that they do all these things.
One of the more interesting regrets in my life is that I didn't make a copy of that database, and anonymously send a copy to every investigative reporter, defense attorney law firm, and social justice org in New England.
To this day, I cannot say if I did the Right Thing or not.
I've been hearing about a modern site called "officer.com", which sounds to be a nationwide successor to that small regional web bbs. And from what I can tell from what leaks from it, it sounds like the kind of outlook and conversation has not improved any.
This entry was originally posted at http://fallenpegasus.dreamwidth.org/8498