Police Department Accessibility Scores


About Accessibility Scores

The higher the score, the easier it is for people to share complaints with a department. Unfortunately, most get failing grades by hiding information or limiting filing options. But most departments can improve their scores by making a few minor changes.

Here's how we score departments.

 

 

Top 20 Largest Departments

Department Name
Employees
Total employees, not just officers.
Accessibility Score & Grade
14,169
77
C+
12,000
100
A+
6,400
38
F
6,400
80
B-
3,986
68
D+
3,929
68
D+
3,100
100
A+
2,781
90
A-

 


 

+20
Has online-submittable complaint form
(not just a PDF)

What's this?
Users can file complaints against police using an online form. These can be a single-page or multi-step format. Providing a PDF form as the only option doesn't count.

Why is this important?
Online-submittable forms give users a friendly and accessible way to begin the complaint process. They're easy to set up using free online tools and signal a willingness to accept and investigate complaints.


+14
Has complaint information on unique web page (not just on PDF)

What's this?
Including complaints information on a static URL improves page accessibility. Because users shouldn't struggle to find the information, departments should avoid burying it under unrelated topics. Providing a PDF form in place of a searchable web page doesn't count.

Why is this important?
Departments should devote a single web page to the topic of police complaints. Including this information on a static URL improves page accessibility.


+10
Investigates complaints sent via email

What's this?
This department accepts and investigates complaints that are emailed in.

Why is this important?
Departments should provide multiple ways to accept complaints, including by email. This is also the optimal way for OpenPolice.org to send departments new user-generated complaints.


+10
Official department form not required for investigation

What's this?
This department doesn't require users to submit complaints using their official form or format.

Why is this important?
Departments should allow users to submit complaints using alternative formats. This also means the department is open to investigate complaints submitted using third-party formats, like OpenPolice.org.


+10
Has complaint information linked from homepage

What's this?
On the department's homepage, users can find a clear link to information about how to submit a complaint.

Why is this important?
Departments should make it easy for users to find this important information from their homepage. It should not be hidden on a remote page or buried among other topics.


+10
Has complaint form PDF on website

What's this?
Users can download and print a PDF version of the department complaint form.

Why is this important?
For departments that haven't yet built online-submittable complaint forms, PDFs can provide a stopgap solution.


+10
Anonymous complaints investigated

What's this?
This department accepts and investigates complaints submitted by people who don't want to be identified.

Why is this important?
Many people who wish to submit complaints fear police retaliation. They shouldn't be silenced and may have crucial information that deserves to be investigated.


+3
Has unique department website

What's this?
This department has a website. It may exist as a standalone site or within a larger municipal website.

Why is this important?
Smaller departments must, at a minimum, have a web page with a static URL. Those lacking the capacity to build one should either disincorporate or merge with a better-resourced department.


+3
Has a Facebook page
(with public comments on)

What's this?
This department has a public Facebook page that allows public comments.

Why is this important?
Departments that use social media are better able to address community needs and concerns.


+3
Has a Twitter account

What's this?
This department has a public Twitter account.

Why is this important?
Departments that use social media are better able to address community needs and concerns.


+3
Has a YouTube channel

What's this?
This department has a public YouTube channel.

Why is this important?
Departments that use social media are better able to address community needs and concerns.


+2
Investigates complaints sent via phone

What's this?
This department accepts and investigates complaints made over the phone.

Why is this important?
Departments should provide multiple ways to accept complaints, including over the phone.


+2
Investigates complaints sent via postal mail

What's this?
This department accepts and investigates complaints that are mailed in.

Why is this important?
Departments should provide multiple ways to accept complaints, including postal mail.


(Misses out on 34 other points)
Requires complaints to be filed in person

What's this?
This department only accepts or investigate complaints that people file at the station.

Why is this important?
Departments should never require people to visit the station to report misconduct or have their complaints investigated. Because many users want to avoid another in-person police encounter, departments should provide additional ways to file complaints.


-10
Requires notary or in-person signature
(for one or more types of complaint)

What's this?
Some state and local lawmakers have passed so-called Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights (LEOBR) laws. These often include provisions requiring certain types of complaints to be certified by a public notary.

Why is this important?
Departments should never put up legalistic barriers against people who want to report misconduct. Because these laws are hostile to people's right to report abuse, we dock 10 points from departments that adhere to them.




Frequency of Key Accessibility Measurements