The police department in Columbus, Ohio keeps a list of private citizens who filed complaints against the police one too many times — and civil liberties experts don’t like it.
The Internal Affairs Bureau of Columbus PD maintained the list, described by local reports as a “chronic complainers” list.
“It’s not meant to be offensive, but it is meant to provide information about what we might be facing,” said Police Chief Kim Jacobs in a statement to The Columbus Dispatch.
There were 63 names on the list when it was obtained by the Dispatch. Each name was accompanied by a brief reason for its inclusion, from “frequent caller, unable to understand police tactics,” to “banned from ride-alongs and is upset,” and “16-B,” which is police shorthand for mentally disturbed.
Jacobs said the list does not effect how police deliver services. Instead, it is used as a reference points for internal affairs investigators when assessing the credibility of complaints against officers. (RELATED: Cop arrives at traffic accident, shoots Air Force airman, chief calls it ‘appropriate force’)
“Originally, it was just a little notepad of names on the corkboard,” said Jacobs.
The note, however, included more detail than Jacobs realized, according to the Dispatch. The chief was surprised to learn that the note also contained instructions to police to ignore complaints if they came from certain citizens, or were made against certain officers.
The list was discovered by two whistle-blowers who for years had been trying to get police to investigate an after school tutoring program that they claimed was rife with sexual abuse of children. Their allegations were not taken seriously, however, because their names were on the list, they claimed.
The American Civil Liberties Union said the list was worrisome.
“When you don’t have strong parameters like this, it often very easily creeps to other areas,” said Mike Brickner, a spokesperson for the ACLU.