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Huge police misconduct report yields some jarring numbers

We all know there are some problematic cops working in Colorado and across the country. No professional demographic is perfect.

How many cops does the public need to be worried about, though? Police officers take oaths to protect the residents of their communities. Most of them unquestionably do that, and in circumstances that are sometimes trying. Some of them don't, however. How big is their population?

It depends on the information source being solicited. One police union principal states his belief that "policemen tend to be more honest and more trustworthy than the average citizen."

That assessment might be true. It doesn't go far, though, toward dampening some relevant numbers currently spotlighted from an unprecedented study into police misconduct nationally. USA Today reporters working with a nonprofit group focused on enhancing public accountability are releasing what is termed "the biggest collection of police misconduct records" ever.

The numbers are sobering. The researchers stress the following findings from a probe covering a 10-year span. It includes "tens of thousands" of documents relevant to internal police hearings and reports, lawsuit settlements and information received in response to states' disclosure laws.

  • 30,000 officers decertified from duty
  • Nearly 23,000 investigations into excessive force
  • Over 3,000 allegations of sexual misconduct
  • 5,000-plus officers placed on tracking lists for their diminished credibility as witnesses

The public will soon be privy to reams of material made available via databases and other sources. Study authors say broad disclosure is needed "to give the public an opportunity to examine their police department and the broader issue of police misconduct."

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