SEATTLE, Washington: (an editorial) Utilizing information obtained via the Washington State equivalent of the Freedom of Information Act, supplemented with data purchased from a variety of information-brokerage companies, William A. Sheehan III, (a certified network engineer), and his associate, Aaron Rosenstein, are working on a webpage which contains large quantities of "private" information ( including the home addresses, home telephone numbers, Social Security numbers, bankruptcy filings, divorce filings, criminal records, and other court records) regarding every single cop in a number of Washington State municipalities.

This data is available to the public on the website

All of the information presented on the website is either a matter of public record, or is available for purchase from commercial sources. It's important to note that similar information is publicly available regarding every person in the United States.

As usual, the police seem to believe that they deserve to be treated differently from the citizens they are sworn to protect, and are backing a lawsuit demanding that their personal information be declared sacrosanct and removed public view.

We completely disagree with the cops' self-serving, hypocritical demand. If maintaining personal privacy in modern America is a problem, (and we do not disagree that this is the case), it is a problem that is faced by all Americans, not just police officers. If something needs to be done to ensure that personal privacy is restored, then the solution must protect us all, not just the cops. Rather than clamoring for special treatment, the cops should be working to protect the rest of us from that which they have clearly deemed to be invasive, if not dangerous.

In fact, given the cops extensive record of abusing government databases, it is ironic for them to complain at all. While there has not been a single documented instance of the information contained on being misused in any manner, the same cannot be said of the police and their databases. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of documented cases in which police officers have illegally used government databases for nefarious objectives.

Thanks to the controversial nature of its content, has generated extensive media coverage on multiple continents, and has received over a million hits in under 4 months.

The local cops are infuriated and frightened, primarily because they can now be easily served with legal process. (See our Crucial Reforms section for details regarding this issue).

The city of Kirkland, demonstrating high-handed contempt for both its residents and for the 1st Amendment, has bowed to police pressure and retained Seattle's largest law firm to target Mr. Sheehan, at a cost to taxpayers of over $300,000.00. Kirkland is seeking $609,000.00 in damages, a wholly baseless sum that can only be intended to intimidate Mr. Sheehan and dissuade others from following his example.

It's shameful that an American city would collude with its police department to perpetuate a dysfunctional departmental culture infected by a paranoid obsession with secrecy and anonymity. The attitude evinced by Kirkland and its police force is reminiscent of that which produced the Stasi, the Gestapo, and the KGB.

We are forced to wonder who's in charge up there in Kirkland- the elected government, or the Police Union?

Fortunately, this David versus Goliath battle is likely to end in the same manner as the original. Despite Kirkland's virtually unlimited resources, made possible by its reckless disregard for fiscal responsibility and inexcusable willingness to plunder taxpayers' pockets to fund this ludicrous suit, Sheehan will probably prevail. Not only does Sheehan have the weight of Constitutional authority on his side, he has also retained Elena Garella, who is widely recognized as one of the top civil-rights attorneys in Washington State, to mount his defense.

We are extremely impressed with Mr. Sheehan's contributions to the cause of police accountability, and offer our wholehearted support. If more individuals would emulate Mr. Sheehan and selflessly donate their time, expertise, and money for the betterment of society, the myriad problems with our government and police would soon be solved.

Do yourself a favor and check out the website. Some of the data is absolutely fascinating. If you can afford to contribute any money to help defray Mr. Sheehan's legal expenses, please do so. (In addition to numerous other negative consequences he has suffered in this battle, Mr. Sheehan was fired when his employer was allegedly contacted by an anonymous police officer).

In recognition of their inspirational achievements, we have extended executive memberships in to Mr. Sheehan and Mr. Rosenstein.

All possible assistance should be rendered to them.

NOTE: If you are interested in pursuing a similar course of action against your own local police department, see our Fight Back section for instructions. We will be happy to chronicle your efforts on this site, and might even publish the results of your research. Home


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