Let's build a tool that gives good cops a way to report bad cops safely & anonymously.

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ReportSafe is meant to provide an open source tool that police departments can use to provide a way for Law Enforcement Officials to anonymously report abuses and worrisome activities of other officers.

The 2015 US Department of Justice's report into the Ferguson, Missouri Police Department cited a "toxic environment" that was not serving in the best interest of the community surrounding the events of the Michael Brown tragedy.

Decent law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day. These civil servants also deal with a negative public opinion caused by the misconduct of a disparate few that are amplified to a point that decays the integrity and goodwill of their role as a whole.

Internal Affairs divisions are the instrument of oversight that is supposed to identify and correct the wrongdoings of law enforcement. Unfortunately, IADs have to largely rely on officers reporting their peers; an action that the public became most familiar with in the 1970's when Frank Serpico reported corruption in the New York Police Department.

Reporting another officer about corruption, abuse of authority, or behavior is commonly believed to be accompanied by harassment, abuse, or even threats of violence. In situations such as this, the suppression of someone wanting to do the right thing is going to be a regular occurrence.

I propose building a system that incorporates open source hardware and software technologies that will allow an officer that is looking to do the right thing to report a tip to officials within their department securely and anonymously. The idea is to give Internal Affairs something that may help them identify patterns and situations that they need to investigate more closely.

My vision is to:

Create an open source hardware device that displays a website address and an easy to remember passphrase in an open area of a law enforcement office only accessible to other law enforcement officers (the passphrase rotates to prevent fraudulent reporting and should be easy to remember so that it doesn't have to be written down).

Officers can then use a computer to access the website address, and enter the passphrase. This generates a form that can be filled out to provide as much information as the officer wishes.

Once a form has been filled out, Internal Affairs is notified and retrieves the information, either choosing to investigate the matter, storing it with similar reports to establish a pattern, or determining the validity of the information provided.

Due to the anonymity of the report, the veracity of the information will require Internal Affairs to gather their own evidence and build their case independent of the tip. The tool's purpose is to provide a "scent", not a "catch."

I believe that such a tool will allow for more effective policing of one's peers in law enforcement. The prominence of such a device in a police station will serve as a reminder beacon to any officer to think twice before committing a villainous act that would denigrate the badge and laws they are sworn to protect.

This will not solve all of our problems, but if even one more whistleblower can step forward with information that allows the authorities to take action wherever appropriate, then a project like this has served a wonderful purpose.

  • 1 × Hardware Component Internet connected LED screen that connects to a web service. Device will display passphrase needed to access website to issue a report
  • 1 × Web Service - Administrative Web GUI for IAD to create account, register new devices, establish contact information, and download reports
  • 1 × Web Service - Front End Passphrase required to establish form that is bound to specific jurisdiction.
  • 1 × Encrypted Database No information in the database will be human readable.
  • 1 × Lots of Scrubbing Protect the officer filing the report. Establish a high level of anonymity from the beginning

  • Why I Thought of This: Fergusnowden

    John Vilsack03/11/2015 at 21:01 0 comments

    I was inspired by Hackaday's call to action for this year's contest to build something meaningful. There are usually a few projects rolling around in my head; but I wouldn't consider any of them world changing.

    When it comes to weighing my political priorities, equal rights and privacy are the two issues most important to me. When I sat down to think about what needed to be fixed in these two areas, equal rights kept bringing me back to Ferguson, and the proper noun most associated with privacy in my mind these days is Edward Snowden.

    The Ferguson report was pretty damning. Unless there was some sort of mass body snatcher conspiracy localized entirely within the Ferguson Police Department, I could not accept the premise that all Ferguson Police were bad. So why didn't anyone speak up?

    So from that question, came this idea. Maybe if the police were more confident they could report issues they themselves are concerned with, maybe the system will help to work itself out. Maybe even the very existence of such a tool can act as a deterrent to stop the morally indecisive to not do the bad thing.

    A tool like this could be expanded on even further. Maybe if we were all a little less afraid of being Ned Stark'd any time we stick our necks out, the real injustices of the world could be dealt with with more expediency and transparency.

    I want to live in a world where decent and truthful people do not have to fear punishment for standing up for what's right.

    Please let me know if you'd like to help.

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John Vilsack wrote 03/28/2015 at 05:21 point

Thanks for the message.  I definitely think Tor is the way to go.

The officer could get the Tor bundle or Tails and then perhaps offer a copyable link to an .onion. 

It turns out the most bothersome part of this project seems to be the ease of which connecting to something to make a report anonymously can be accomplished.  It's not tough to do, but I want the barrier to be near-zero and the ability to protect themselves from scrutiny to be the same.

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j0z0r pwn4tr0n wrote 03/28/2015 at 01:26 point

This is a great idea, and could really change the world we live in. To work it has to be totally anonymous and untraceable. Have you thought about leveraging Tor?

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