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Immediately after the deaths of Eric Garner, Sandra Bland and Corey Jones the media’s focus was on the bad acts that the dead had committed. However, what about the police? What about those who were seemingly responsible for their deaths? Why did it seem like they were above scrutiny?

Enter the Transparency and Accountability Project (TAP). We believe in publishing police disciplinary records in order to create a better justice system. One in which the police are accountable to the public.

There are several reasons why our project needs to exist. First, the public is crucial in holding the police accountable. We believe that if the public sees that other people have complained about an officer, they will be more likely to have the courage to complain as well. With this evidence, police departments will have an easier time getting rid of the bad apples. Second, defense attorneys who can access these records will be able to develop better defenses for their clients. Third, the media will be able to provide a more authentic analysis of police officers, especially when tragedies happen. For example, on October 20, 2015, TAP published the disciplinary record of Nouman Raja, the Palm Beach Gardens officer who shot Corey Jones. Our disclosure led to Washington Post reporting on the records.[1] Finally, through publishing these records, we believe that we will serve as a vital model for states that have yet to develop open records laws that allow for disclosing this information publicly.

This project will focus on serving marginalized communities in the areas surrounding the police departments whose records we request. Communities and the media alike face difficulties in obtaining records.[2] This lax governmental response means that millions of people often do not have access to justice and important information. We believe that this project gives marginalized communities the ability to tackle the criminalization of their existence and further empowers them to change the policing that they are subjected to.

 

 

 

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[1] Wesley Lowery, “Police Say Corey Jones Was Carrying Gun He Purchased Legally Three Days Earlier When Shot by Officer,” Washington Post, October 20, 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2015/10/20/police-say-corey-jones-was-carrying-gun-he-purchased-legally-three-days-earlier-when-shot-by-officer/.

[2] “The Lens Sues City of New Orleans over Unfilled Requests for Public Records,” The New Orleans Advocate, May 13, 2015, http://www.theneworleansadvocate.com/news/politics/bobbyjindal/12365693-123/the-lens-sues-city-of. “City Sued after Allegedly failing to Produce Public Records concerning Murder,” Louisiana Record, February 19, 2015, http://louisianarecord.com/stories/510584379-city-sued-after-allegedly-failing-to-produce-public-records-concerning-murder.