National Database of Troubled Police Officers Needed, Expert Says

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Some experts say thousands of law enforcement officers have drifted from police department to police department after having been fired, forced to resign, or convicted of a crime, the New York Times reports. There is no comprehensive, national system for weeding out problem officers. If there were, such hires would not happen, criminologists and law enforcement officials say. Some officers, hired with only the most perfunctory of background examinations and without even having their fingerprints checked, often end up in new trouble. A lack of coordination among law enforcement agencies, opposition from police and unions, and an absence of federal guidance have meant that in many cases police departments do not know the background of prospective officers if they fail to disclose a troubled history.

Emeritus law Prof. Roger Goldman of St. Louis University, and an authority on police licensing laws, said that using the National Practitioner Data Bank for physicians as a model, the government should establish a database of officers who have criminal convictions, have been fired or forced to resign, have had their law enforcement licenses revoked, or have been named in a judgment or settlement involving misconduct. “After Ferguson and the other stuff that’s happened, if we can’t get this done now, when are we going to get it done?” he said. The International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training manages a database of 21,000 officers who have been stripped of their police powers. The New York Times

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