Web site a security risk?

March 21, 2008 3:51:00 PM PDT
A new website has Houston police worried about the security of its officers. The new site lets you rate the performance of police. Houston police say the information on the website RateMyCop.com can be dangerous in the wrong hands, especially since the nationwide website refers to officers by their full names.

Members of HPD's command staff heard about the website a couple of weeks ago and have since launched an investigation. While police commanders tell us they welcome the public's input, they're not convinced this website is the safest way for citizens to voice their opinions.

Praise or criticism, public feedback is a big part of being a Houston police officer. We caught up with some officers who were being promoted Friday. They expect it.

"I plan on being of service to the community and continue in a capacity to make our service and efforts even better," said Sgt. E.C. Thomas Houston Police Department.

Yet Houston police believe this online forum that lets anyone rate an officer's performance could be jeopardizing that officer's safety. The site refers to officers by their first and last names, a practice HPD shies away from for what they say is good reason.

"For the criminal element, those who engage in some type of criminal behavior, might try to do some research on officers, especially those on sensitive assignments such as undercover operations," said Asst. Chief M. Thaler Houston Police Dept.

A spokesperson for RateMyCop.com tell us, "We believe citizens have the right to publicly critique the agencies and officers sworn to protect and serve. All the information we have gathered about the police officers is public information."

Users rank the officers' service based on professionalism, fairness, and satisfaction. While we chose not identify the officers, here's what some had to say about Houston's finest.

    'Good officer, very professional, treated me with respect that I showed him."

    "He is a true blue officer, dedicated to doing the right thing; an officer with integrity and honor."

    "Not very professional, rude."

"We'd rather have that information come directly to the police department as opposed to some anonymous website," said Thaler.

Police associations in California are working on legislation to stop the website. HPD is not part of that effort.

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