Website lets you vent about police: Posts include local departments - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Website lets you vent about police: Posts include local departments

By Andy Jenks - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - If you've ever seen the police in your rear view mirror, usually there's not a lot you can say or do about it. But these days - there's a way to take public, your run-ins with the law.

The website is called www.ratemycop.com. It allows anyone to go online and, with the click of a button, write a detailed report about a specific police officer. As you can imagine they're not always rave reviews.

Amy Donnelly remembers all too well the night she got pulled over. It was Christmas Eve, and the only present in her future - was an unpleasant experience.

"He just wasn't personable, kinda gruff, just rude," Donnelly said of the officer who pulled her over.

If only there was a way to spread the word about it?

"I think that a web site is a really good idea," said Dawn Popielarz.

That's where the Los Angeles-based website comes in. Featuring write-ups on more than 190,000 officers, it's a "who's who" of the good and bad for all of cyberspace to see. Click on "Virginia", and nine reports on Richmond appear - including comments like, "Bully with a badge."

Legal analyst Steve Benjamin says its all fair game in the internet age.

"You can criticize police officers just as you can criticize your neighbor. There's no special rules that apply to police officers," Benjamin said.

Benjamin's take is that the site gives a good opportunity to people who otherwise feel powerless. But that doesn't mean the power is limitless.

"If you say something false and critical about an officer, you can be sued just as if you had said that about somebody else," Benjamin said.

As long as you can stand by your comments - they're okay. And they might even be helpful.

"People can vent. And that's a very important thing to be able to do. And also, it sometimes supplies some very important information," Benjamin said.

"He was a gracious cop, did not give me a ticket," said Beth Riviello, of the time she got pulled over.

"I would post something positive if I had a positive experience," added Christine Frei.

It's unclear just how many area departments are aware of the site. When reached for comment, a spokesman for Richmond Police said, the force has "no opinion" on it. A fact, that won't stop the opinions from originating elsewhere.

"It's my right to post that. And if I have something to say, I'm gonna say it," Popielarz said.

"If they're being rude, or someone's not doing their job correctly, someone's gotta let them know," Donnelly added.

(c) 2009. WWBT, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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