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 actually held accountable to the public.

There are several reasons why our project and similar projects need to exist.

    1. The public holds a special role in holding the police accountable. We believe that through the public having access to these records, they will have more courage to come forward to report misconduct. With this evidence, police departments and cities will have an easier time getting rid of poorly performing officers.

    2. Defense attorneys who can access these records will be able to develop better defenses for their clients. This will lead to a lower incarceration rate. More so, officers who are dishonest or guilty of misconduct will not be retained by police departments because of the tangible negative impacts to the criminal justice system that retaining them would cause.

    3. When an officer involved shooting happens, the media will be able to provide a more authentic analysis of the police officers. When a shooting happens, the police and the government typically control the narrative so that oftentimes the victim is painted to be guilty party. For example, on October 20, 2015, our organization 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, which gave Mr. Jones’ family some semblance of peace after he was vilified by the police department during the initial hours after the shooting. Ultimately, that situation led to Nouman Raja being charged with first-degree murder.

    4. Police officers who identify colleagues as engaging in misconduct will have easier access to proving their case. Changing the culture within policing is critical. Many officers describe how they cannot change the culture by themselves. Publishing these records will provide good cops with the support they need to help rid their departments of poorly performing officers.

    5. Data analyses will be able to be conducted upon these records to identify potentially problematic officers and trends coming out of police departments. This will potentially lead to increased collaboration between activists and police departments as they both work to rid police forces of bad officers.