The Brady List: Officers with Credibility Issues - with Melissa Santos

The Brady List: Officers with Credibility Issues - with Melissa Santos

Crystal shares that  the Friday, almost-live Week in Review show will be back next week, as  we take time off to enjoy the long weekend, and we are airing a show  with Melissa Santos talking about her excellent reporting on  Washington's Brady List.

Crystal also is very thankful for the  support and amplification by Hacks & Wonks listeners online, and  wants to reinforce that this show is a team effort, and the quality of  this show is a result of the work and talent of Lisl Stadler and Shannon  Cheng, and was happy to be able to talk about how phenomenal they both  are. ❤️

On today's show, Melissa Santos from Crosscut joins  Crystal to talk about her deep dive into Washington State’s Brady List,  which is a list maintained by prosecutors of cops with credibility  issues which may compromise their testimony in court. In her research  she found that nearly 200 cops in our state have such credibility  issues. They also get in to how recent laws may affect police  accountability in Washington State, what happens when a police officer’s  account of an incident differs from other accounts, and how the media  could more responsibly report on official police accounts of an  incident.

As always, a full text transcript of the show is available below and at

Find the host, Crystal Fincher on Twitter at @finchfrii and find today’s guest, Melissa Santos, at @MelissaSantos1. More info is available at


“Nearly 200 cops with credibility issues still working in Washington state” by Melissa Santos:

“How fired cops win their jobs back: arbitration” by Melissa Santos:

“How public records gave us a window into WA police misconduct” by Melissa Santos:

“3 WA families on how new police laws could have helped their loved ones” by Melissa Santos:

“Recapping  the 2021 Legislative Session and Uncovering Washington Police  Credibility Issues: A Double Episode – Melissa Santos – Crosscut - #127”  from the Nerd Farmer Podcast:

“Full investigation of Manuel Ellis’ death casts new doubts on Tacoma officers’ stories” by Patrick Malone:

“Tommy Le May Have Been Shot While Facedown on the Roadway, May Not Have Even Had a Pen, Documents Show” by Carolyn Bick:

“Opinion: Remember Tommy Le” by Senator Joe Nguyen:

“Newspaper carrier who was confronted by Sheriff Ed Troyer files $5 million legal claim against Pierce County” by Jim Brunner:

“How Headlines Change the Way We Think” by Maria Konnikova:


Crystal Fincher:  [00:00:00] Hey, this is Crystal Fincher, host of Hacks & Wonks.  Today is Friday, July 2nd, and normally we would be doing a  week-in-review with a guest co-host. This week, we are not doing that as  it is a long holiday weekend, and we are taking time off to enjoy it.  So I hope you're able to do the same.

I also wanted to take a  moment and thank all of you for all of the compliments and just how  gracious and kind you've been and reaching out to me and posting online.  Just compliments about the podcast. I sincerely appreciate that. It  means a lot to me when people say that they feel better informed about  candidates and issues. I am passionate about helping us all understand  the power that we have to shape our own communities and that starts at  the local level. And so people saying that they feel better about that  really makes my day and week and month. So thank you all for that.

I  also wanted to point out because so many people have been like  specifically complimenting me and just to stress that this is not a  one-woman operation at all and this show is an absolute team effort.

We  spend 10 to 15 hours a week, probably a strong 15. Sometimes it gets  over that, but just on everything that has to do with putting together  this show, there's a number of us. I could not do this by myself. I  actually have a consulting firm. By day, I'm a political consultant that  is more than a full-time job and a variety of projects and clients that  we work on and work with.

And so being able to fit this in would  not be possible without Lisl Stadler, my producer, Shannon Chang who  works with me at Fincher Consulting, and just is a dynamic human being.  Maurice Jones Jr. who from the very beginning when I had zero experience  talking into a mic regularly like this on the radio who completely just  helped me and shepherded me.

So I just wanted to take a moment  to let you know how incredible they are. Lisl is my producer  extraordinaire. She edits the audio beautifully makes me sound much  better. And, oh my goodness, if you listen to unedited audio followed by  edited audio, then you get so annoyed by mouth sounds and breathing  noises and all of that.

She is just so good, in addition to being  full of ideas. We meet, a couple of times weekly from preparing show  notes to the guests that we have to just the composition of shows  special events that we do. She's also been instrumental in the forums  that I've moderated and that we've put together. Lisl is incredible.

And if you ever need to have an excellent conversation about Lord of the Rings or Eurovision or Drag Race, Lisl is your woman.

Shannon,  Dr. Shannon Cheng. She has a PhD from MIT is... to say she's the wind  beneath my wings sounds really corny, but she is so competent in so many  different ways and just such a quality human being that she makes  everything that I do better. Her involvement in this podcast has  absolutely made it better. She's also the chair of ACLU's People Power,  and has been doing work on police accountability for years, and the  quality of this podcast is directly tied to and has been tangibly  improved by my conversations with her and her teaching me enlightening  me, helping me understand all the intricacies of just at the different  layers of government within contracts and practices and from soup to  nuts, she has improved me, improved my understanding, just everything  from this podcast and beyond.

So I just wanted to take a special  moment to thank Shannon. You're incredible and amazing. To thank Lisl,  also incredible and amazing. And to just let everyone know that this is a  group effort and they are as responsible for the success of the show. I  say success, we've gained some traction lately. Things have been going  okay. But the extent of it going okay is directly the result of the  effort that they have both put in and them walking this path with me.  And you may not hear their voices all the time but they do as much work  on this show as I do.

So thanks so much, enjoy the show, and this  audio may sound interesting cause I'm sneaking this on the front. Lisl  is not editing this, so hopefully it comes out sounding okay. Talk to  you all later.

Welcome to Hacks & Wonks, I'm your host  Crystal Fincher. On this show, we talk to political hacks and policy  wonks to gather insight in the local politics and policy through the  lens of those doing the work. And provide behind the scenes perspectives  on politics in our state. Full transcripts and resources referenced in  the show are always available and in our  episode notes. Well, today we are thrilled to have, joining us again,  Crosscut reporter, excellent reporter, one of the best in the state,  Melissa Santos.

Melissa Santos: [00:05:35] Hi Crystal.

Crystal Fincher:  [00:05:36] Hello. Well, I'm really excited to have you join us today  because lots of people are familiar with your reporting. You are known  for doing very in-depth, long form reports and really diving into the  details of issues reporting thoroughly. And you really outdid yourself  this time by doing a long-term investigative series on officers on the  Brady list in the State of Washington. What motivated you to even do  this story?

Melissa Santos: [00:06:11] Well, I  had known about these lists where essentially these are lists  prosecutors have of officers that have some sort of issue. An issue that  often deals with their veracity, whether they tell the truth, not  always, but sometimes. And especially after George Floyd's death. And we  were seeing, sometimes the initial narrative surrounding what happens  during police uses of force, especially isn't later found to be exactly  what happened or some details are different. And sometimes we've been  hearing a long time also families of police shooting victims saying that  they don't think the official story is right. So I just figured, if we  have known officers who may have issues with truth, to the point that  prosecutors keep lists of them and have to tell defense attorneys about  this past issue, then it's worth finding out who those folks are, why  they still have jobs, what the issue was. And so that's why I started on  it last summer.

Crystal Fincher: [00:07:19]  Right. And so, as you covered, the Brady list is a list of officers who  for some reason, their truthfulness has been called into question. What  types of issues, or is it just lying that lands you on the Brady list?  Are there other types of behaviors or activities that put you on there?

Melissa Santos:  [00:07:37] Lying is the most common or some sort of dishonesty. There  also though, I mean, if you demonstrate racial bias and there's some  documented incidents of that, you can get on the Brady list. I'm not  sure that every officer that is suspected of having some bias is on this  list. There's only some that are on there, but also uses of force, get  some folks on there as well. If there was deemed to be some sort of  questionable or excessive use of force, they could be on the Brady list.  The other things that get you on there, or maybe they don't really  think you lied, exactly, intentionally, but somehow your official report  really doesn't match the other evidence. Especially if it's dash cam  video, if your reports do not match official dash cam video. And there's  some discrepancy that seems like it could potentially affect the  outcome of a case. That's something that has to be disclosed that will  put you on the list.

And I mean, prosecutors will say this list  is just an administrative tool by which we kind of keep track of  officers for whom we have to send out notices to defense saying, "Hey,  you should know about this past thing." Because it's a due process  issue. They should have all the evidence that might indicate a cop's  credibility is in question. And that can relate to future cases if the  cop, maybe has been less than truthful in the past or there's suspicion  that they were.

Crystal Fincher: [00:09:06]  Yeah, absolutely. And it is important to really consider and talk about  why the honesty and integrity of officers is really important and why  this list is necessary. You just talked about it being a due process  issue, and certainly in a trial, if there is reason to doubt the  testimony of an officer, oftentimes that can be the determining factor  on whether someone is viewed to be guilty or innocent. An officer's word  is taken as truth universally. And that in issues of guilt and  innocence, you can dramatically impact and infringe upon someone's civil  rights, their constitutional rights. If you don't tell the truth, and  that can result in them going to jail. It can be a lot to some people  simpler. It could be, hey, maybe they didn't take a report of a crime  seriously. And it depends on whether insurance is going to cover  something, or their employer covers something, or whether or not they  eventually wind up arrested.

They have so much control and  influence over people's lives and what happens to them that they should  be, and theoretically are held to a higher standard when it comes to  their conduct and their honesty. And so this list is saying, hey, these  officers have not met standard of high conduct. And we need to consider  that, that we can't automatically take their word as being truthful and  honest, which has also been an issue in reporting overall. And I know  you've had conversations, there was a great conversation you've had on  the Nerd Farmer Podcast about this, talking about how reporters take  officer's words as fact. And how after incidences, it can be an officer  and quote-unquote officer-involved shooting, when an officer shoots and  often kill someone or they do something and they come out with their  statement about what happened that has as a default been reported as  fact. Is that practice changing. Is that practice, do you think worthy  of being changed, and have you seen that talked about in reaction to  your piece that you did?

Melissa Santos:  [00:11:31] I think in the last couple of years, especially, I feel like  there has been a broader discussion in the media about how to use police  statements. But I do think there's pressure, especially for daily media  outlets and newspapers to get a story out quickly, immediately. And the  police statement really is all you have at first, most of the time. And  so I just think that, that needs to be presented in the proper context,  and not just kind of... I think that we've kind of been a little  flipped with being, like, "We said, police said. That it was the police  who said it." Yeah. But I think that we might need to be more explicit  and say, "This is the police's side of the story. We don't have other  witnesses just tell their side of the story right now. So this is  only..." I think we might just need to call that out a little more  clearly, rather than just a small attribution and assuming readers can  follow that.

And certainly readers can follow, they're smart, but  people read things quickly. So, I just think that you need to stop  readers and say, "Hey, this is all the information we have. We're  working to get more. This is what the police say. There was some..."  Especially now since we have the internet, there's usually some sort of,  not all the time, but sometimes there's conflicting reports from the  scene from social media. And I think maybe that can be acknowledged too.  And I just think that it does need to be considered. Because I think  the original press release from George Floyd's killing was like... It  was not saying that Derek Chauvin stood on his neck for nine minutes,  right? It was like, "Oh, he died of natural causes after an  altercation." It was something like that, right? Or he died of  respiratory failure or something like that. It wasn't like, "Respiratory  failure because our person was constricting his airway with his knee  for nine minutes." That was not what it said, right?

So I think  we're all learning we need to be more cognizant that the police story is  not the correct story, but all the time. However, there's been people  saying this for a very long time. So I think media is a little slow to  catch up on that.

... saying this for a very long time. So I  think media is a little slow to catch up on that. Sometimes that first  statement may be accurate. I mean, it's not always an accurate  necessarily, but certainly there's enough instances where it has not  been an accurate depiction of what happened during a use of force  incident that there's reason to question whether you should just run  with that narrative in the very beginning.

Crystal Fincher:  [00:13:54] Oh, absolutely. I mean, we've seen that here locally  recently. We saw it with Manuel Ellis. So we saw it with Tommy Le. We  saw it with Pierce County Sheriff, Ed Troyer, where their account of  events does not match up with that. I think your point of putting it in  context and the need for media to independently work on verifying that  narrative, that is one reported perspective that should not be the only  reported perspective. It should be noted that if that hasn't been able  to be independently verified or verified through reporting by other  means, that is called out and explicitly said. I think that's helpful.

Melissa Santos:  [00:14:47] I think we also need to be mindful of updates to stories,  because that's a lot of times sort of how the industry has worked. When  we do a new story and we fix things. I mean, it wasn't inaccurate, that  was what police said. That's what we said that was what police said. So  that story is still somewhere in the ether. Again, the internet lives  forever, basically for the most part. So those older stories can still  cloud the truth of the actual matter if they remain up and aren't clear  about what actually happened. So I think that there needs to be more  deliberate going back and saying. And sometimes you still see this, we  have a new version, we have more updates to this story that we've put  here. Maybe for integrity sake you may not want to delete the original  story. That's not something we generally do. But something at the top  saying, we've gotten more information. The updated information is here.  You should go there. So people don't find some old story in a vacuum  that doesn't have all that important context. And that's something we  need to look at as well.

Crystal Fincher:  [00:15:41] Yeah. And certainly, also underscoring the importance of  headlines, people can discern information, but it is also a reality that  a lot of people don't read full articles or they may not have time to  read through every article. So rely on headlines sometimes and may get  back to the information to get more detail or may not. So I hope that  there is widespread thoughtfulness and consideration being given to  putting that reporting in more context and not just treating that as a  factual account that just gets passed through and kind of transcribed  without it being verified, or at least explicitly noted that it hasn't  been, that that is a perspective. Back to, I guess the issue of the  Brady list overall, do all officers, how comprehensive is the list? We  have a list of around, is it around 200 officers right now?

Melissa Santos: [00:16:47] Right. About 200. A little under 200 right now. Statewide.

Crystal Fincher:  [00:16:50] Do they feel like that covers the number of officers there?  Are there still glaring holes? Or how hard is it or how easy is it for  an officer to wind up on that list?

Melissa Santos:  [00:17:00] So I do think it varies a little by jurisdiction. But I will  say in general, most officers don't get on the list for nothing, just  for some casual, maybe they did something, maybe they didn't. I do not  think that it is easy in the sense that you have to have some sort of  concrete evidence usually. I don't think that prosecutors will put  officers on this list of cops that may have issues, issues that have to  be disclosed to the defense, without some sort of evidence that  something went wrong or that there was some sort of fishy activity. So  getting that evidence that a cop lied, for instance, that doesn't always  come forth. So it's not always clear that a cop lied, so it's rare to  actually have something really specific, like we saw proof that what  they said did not match what actually happened.

So that's  somewhat rare, so that influences who goes on the list and who does not  go on the list. It also is dependent a lot on what police agencies  report upward to the prosecutor's office. I mean, most of this is based  on police officer disciplinary procedures. And if the police agencies do  not have a sustained finding of misconduct, of dishonesty, then often  that does not end up putting an officer on a prosecutor's Brady list,  even if maybe there is some evidence that someone might think, well,  wait, wait, wait, wait. I think that that actually was kind of messed up  and maybe that investigation didn't actually turn up what it should  have. So you're depending on the police officer disciplinary process,  which in some cases I think some people would argue does not always kind  of identify officer misconduct as reliably as it should, since it's the  department investigating its own officers.

So that's one issue.  And defense attorneys just say that, no, there's all of these officers  we kind of know have issues that are not on this list. And so it's an  under count in that respect. And I should add that the 200 or so  officers that I identified are ones that are currently working. There  was a lot more that were on the list, but maybe have left law  enforcement and things like that. So we actually kind of took a look to  say, who is still around? Because theoretically if there's officers who  applied or abused force and they've been fired, you're like, okay, well  maybe that's an appropriate response. But they still end up on  prosecutor's lists in case they get another job in law enforcement or  the prosecutors don't keep up with all the personnel stuff sometimes.  So, yeah. So we actually narrowed it down, but there are almost 200  still working in the state-

Crystal Fincher:  [00:19:43] So is it fair to say that usually officers wind up on the  list when their own departments have found that there has been some kind  of dishonesty or misconduct?

Melissa Santos:  [00:19:53] Yes. The vast majority of the time that's what I found. In  fact, I think that King County even has a system by which they have a  pending list, a pending sort of, well, we're seeing how the outcome of  this investigation plays out. And if the allegation is not sustained,  that they won't end up even necessarily end up on the permanent list. So  there certainly is some due process in that respect for officers. I've  definitely have gotten some emails saying, oh, people can get put on  this for anything. I don't think that's necessarily true. At the same  time, there are cases in which a defense attorney brings something  forward, being like, I looked at this guy's personnel file and this  seems to be like, you should've told me about this. And that sometimes  will cause a prosecutor to say, yeah, that should actually be something  that puts you on our list, even if the police agency did not deem it a  problem.

I think one example of that is someone I actually used  in my story as a deputy in Whatcom County, who had used a really racist  ... He just said something really racist on Facebook about Native  Americans. It was kind of joking about genocide. It was very bad. So his  department didn't discipline him for that. I actually have inquired and  I got an answer after my story ran that there was no discipline  involved. And that came from a defense attorney who said, "I found this  on my phone just looking, when I was looking up the key witness against  my client, and you should know about this." And then so the prosecutor  said, "yeah, it does seem like it meets the legal requirements of  something we need to disclose, so we are putting him on our list. But I  really trust his testimony and I'm going to continue to call on him as a  witness."

So that's also something that was interesting, that  even at times when people are on the list, the prosecutors who are,  they're part of the same team as the cops in general, really, they often  say, this technically meets the criteria for something I need to turn  over, but I have not had any issue with this cop and I trust that  person. So that's also part of the discussion.

Crystal Fincher:  [00:22:04] Oh, the old, I'd never had a problem with them, so they're  not a problem for anyone, excuse, which we've all seen workout so  wonderfully. I guess another question I have is, I've certainly heard  reports and seen reports before that there can be misconduct that  happens or a finding of some misconduct or lying, and that doesn't  always make it or stay on an officer's record or in their personnel  file, how does that affect or impact who winds up on the Brady list? Can  there be actions or findings of misconduct that don't make it to the  file, or that are erased from the file, and then that can prevent them  from being on the list?

Melissa Santos:  [00:22:52] Well in general, it depends on the county. But for instance,  I'll use King County as an example. That's one case in which they told  me they would not remove someone for their list. If it was something  like, "Oh, an arbitrator said, 'we think this punishment was wrong, and  we think you should not have disciplined this person.'" But finding the  fact didn't change? And everyone agrees this happened, but it wasn't  worthy of discipline or something like that. They told me that would  keep someone on the list, and certainly I did see examples of this  discipline was overturned, but through some sort of settlement, but that  person is still on the King County prosecutor's list.

So  actually that's one thing I thought was... This is one reason why I  actually did this story, because I realized the prosecutors have a  repository of records on cops that sometimes their own departments may  not even have anymore. Especially because in some cases, the police  agencies completely independent of the police contracts, an officer may  have left pretty recently, but those disciplinary records are destroyed  after usually six years. So even if it was at this point, 2014, 2015,  something someone did in their last jurisdiction, that jurisdiction  doesn't have those records anymore, a lot of cases I found. But the  prosecutor's office did.

So that's one reason I wanted to look at  these records, because police disciplinary records are not very  well-maintained. I think that's changing with the new law that just  passed, it's supposed to hopefully change. But yeah, that was one  reason. The prosecutors actually were better about keeping these records  than the agencies themselves in some cases.

Crystal Fincher:  [00:24:34] There seem to be so many loopholes, and we seem to be  relying on people and agencies self-investigating and self-reporting,  and there don't seem to be many exceptions to that. Looking forward, how  are people... What has been the response to your story? How are people  looking at the utility of the Brady List? And is there any responses  that you've heard about how to make this list better, more comprehensive  and more reliable?

Melissa Santos: [00:25:10]  So I'm waiting to see if this... There is a new law they passed. I  wouldn't say it was in response to my story, it was well in the works at  the time I wrote. But there was a law that passed that said that police  agencies have to send any findings of misconduct to the prosecutor's  office within 10 days of their discovery of those incidents. So that's  something the prosecutors say, "Okay, that would help us, because right  now we don't feel like we're always getting them in a timely manner."  Because even though the cops are supposed to turn that stuff over under  the case law, that really should happen. They were saying, "Well  sometimes it's like, they might turn them over once every six months, or  maybe they send over a batch yearly or something." The prosecutors  think that could get them in trouble, because they're assumed to know  everything that the cops do. Because again, they're all part of the  prosecuting law enforcement teams.

So that new law, maybe it will  help. I still think that it's dependent on the disciplinary... I guess  we'll see. I think there is a little bit of wiggle room for how, whether  the agencies think it's reportable misconduct or not, that law tries to  clarify that. Like, "You need to report stuff like this, lying." Or,  "if an investigation starts, you need to send it over." I'm interested  to see how it's implemented on the ground, that's all.

And I'm  not sure it solves the issue of... Something else I'm looking into right  now is whether prosecutors always do their job. That was a little too  much to get into in my first story, but do they always turn over what  they're supposed to to the defense, even for people on their list? Some  defense attorneys tell me no, that they don't. They think it's very  relevant that this cop lied sometime ago, but they didn't get a  notification like they were supposed to do from the prosecutor's office,  is what some have told me. And I'm going to looking at trying to find  out how often that happens, that's a little hard to pin down. But  there's a lot of ways in which it can still break down I think, even  with this new law potentially.

Crystal Fincher:  [00:27:23] Yeah, I'm glad you're looking at doing that story. Certainly  just from attorney friends that I have, have heard stories of that  happening. And you alluded to earlier, the very close relationship  between police and prosecutors, and those prosecutors relying on the  testimony of police to make their cases in sometimes. Sometimes it is  the police making their case, and so there seems to be an incentive to  present that cop in the best light possible, and to cover up anything  that could jeopardize their case. Which would be misconduct, or lying  from an officer. So I'm excited to hear that. Looking at from what  you've reported as you're looking at the process, what do you see could  be put into place to make it more reliable or strengthened? What are the  biggest loopholes, or areas of opportunity for improvement?

Melissa Santos:  [00:28:27] I understand the prosecutors have a workload. I don't think  they're just mostly sitting around on their butts not doing anything.  I'm not sure how this would exactly necessarily work, but I have a  defense attorney who said, she just looked at the guy's public Facebook  page and found this, and the prosecutor had not had that in their file  or anything on this cop. Maybe the prosecuting office does need to take a  bigger role in saying, "Maybe we need to do a little more looking at  our witnesses ourselves." Because it is a constitutional obligation for  them to turn over exculpatory evidence, stuff that could clear someone  or affect the outcome of someone's case. They have to do that.

I  think the prosecutors take that seriously in general, but I'm not sure  how much they're taking it upon themselves to look for stuff that should  be disclosed. I've kind of been told, "We can't do our own disciplinary  investigations. How are we going to do that? We have to rely on the  cops for that." But maybe there's at least some cursory work that needs  to be done, or someone in each office that just looks up every witness  and finds more stuff on the prosecutor's end. I'm not sure if that's not  feasible, but it does seem like that's where things go missing  sometimes in this process. And still could, even with this new law. So  that's happened.

And then there's also this element of... I'm  just really unclear how determinations are made that someone's bias or  use of force merits them putting on the Brady List. Because I think that  there's plenty of people in our community that would argue that there  are more than half a dozen officers who have demonstrated bias in a way  that maybe should be mentioned in future cases that they're a witness  on. But I only found maybe six or eight cases that were people on the  Brady List currently for bias. So that seems like it could be low  potentially. That determination is a little fuzzy, I think to me, how is  that determination made? I don't know though that there's that many  formal determinations of sustained finding that you were racist in the  police world right now.

So yeah. And also, uses of force. There's  not that many officers on the list for use of force, even though  theoretically they should be. And I suspect there's a few more cases  that maybe didn't make the list, where officers might have used force in  a way that defense attorneys would want to know about in their past.

Crystal Fincher:  [00:31:02] Yeah, you make some really good points. And even to your  point, it does seem like most people involved in the legal system,  prosecutors included, are largely acting in good faith. But the  institution sometimes present some obstacles, and it seems like the job  of a prosecutor and investigating and how they interact with police...  30 years ago, looking up their social media history was not a thing.  Seeing if dash cam video or body cameras matched up to their account was  not a thing , and so there's just a lot more to look into and they just  may not have also expanded their practices and have the daily  resources, given their workload, that accounts for being able to look  into all of that. But maybe that should be happening; maybe they do need  to really explore how to make sure that they're looking at all  available evidence to help account for that.

Melissa Santos:  [00:32:06] I actually thought of something else. In fact, there's a  couple of people who got added to the Brady list apparently because of  my going around asking everyone for their list, basically. That sort of  indicated to me that there was some lag time, I guess, in people being  added to the list. That's even on the prosecutor's end, apparently, I  think. Or maybe they were like, "Oh, we really should get an update on  this guy. Whatever happened with this?" Yeah, I think that there's some  potential for wiggle room there.

I will say there's some  instances when prosecutors we're really concerned about a cop and the  prosecutor saying, "This is a problem. We need to put that person on our  list," happened independently of officers. But that was not the  majority of cases. It was only a handful that I saw and had records on.

Crystal Fincher:  [00:32:57] Yeah. It also seems like there is a problem with, okay, we  only keep records for six years, or however long that is. If an officer  changes jurisdictions, we just may not know that they had some egregious  things on their record from 2013. Seems like we do that for folks on  the other side of the criminal justice system, and if there is something  on their record from 2010 or, really anytime, that that counts against  them in terms of what they're charged with, how they're sentenced. And  if it seems like that should be a factor taken into consideration for  people who are defendants, certainly other people involved in that, that  should be consistent. And, wow, 2014 just does not seem that long ago  to be discounting what people are doing.

Melissa Santos:  [00:33:50] Right. I was talking early 2010s, there are some records I  don't have. There was a guy who was police chief in one small town that  oversaw some really, really bad management of stuff. Evidence was just  lying around the squad room. Actually, mishandling of evidence could get  you on the list too. This was really rampant, bad. An auditor came in,  he ended up leaving the department but that works in another department  now. And this, this changeover, he left that department in 2012 or  something. There's records I can't get anymore from some of that. Yeah,  it doesn't seem like that long ago, really.

But I will say  there's this new bill. I was asking how much will this really help? This  bill that deals with officer decertification, making it so it's easier  for the state to pull an officer's license does kind of set new rules  for union contracts to not allow them to destroy or remove files from  people's personnel records because this actually happens as well.  Sometimes officers can request after two years or something... Sometimes  it's as low as two or three years to have something removed from their  personnel file. And all that might be in there then as a letter saying,  "This officer asked for this to be... some disciplinary action to be  removed." And I think that in some cases you can still get those records  by asking a different department somehow, but it obscures the process  at the very minimum, even if those records in some cases may be  attainable somehow else. And so that's something that will change  apparently with this bill. You won't be able to have contracts that let  officers remove stuff from their files as often, at least.

Crystal Fincher:  [00:35:32] Well thank you so much for taking the time today to talk to  us. An amazing series that you reported. If people want to find this  story and your reporting, how can they find you?

Melissa Santos:  [00:35:43] Well, this is a good question. We actually have a page where  we have kept all of our stories on the Brady list, and we hope to  report more on this with followups as well, but right now... I'm  actually looking up the URL to make sure. Right now, it's just that That's where you can find all the  stories. And you can also find a form there where if you want to tell  us something about a cop, you can let us know. I am looking into a  couple of things that people have sent to me. And you also can always  direct message me on Twitter. If you're concerned about anonymity, I can  give you my signal number or something as well. People can get in touch  with me and read the stories that way.

Crystal Fincher:  [00:36:30] Okay, sounds good. We will also include all of that in our  show notes so you can access it there. We appreciate your reporting. You  do an excellent job. This is really important reporting; directly  impacts the safety of people and the integrity of our process so thank  you so much for spending the time and we'll talk to you soon.

Melissa Santos: [00:36:52] Thank you.

Crystal Fincher:  [00:36:54] Thank you for listening to Hacks & Wonks. Our chief  audio engineer at KVRU is Maurice Jones, Jr. The producer of Hacks &  Wonks is Lisl Stadler. You can find me on Twitter at @finchfrii,  spelled F-I-N-C-H F-R-I-I. And now you can follow Hacks & Wonks on  iTunes, Spotify, or wherever else you get your podcasts. Just type in  Hacks & Wonks into the search bar. Be sure to subscribe to get our  Friday almost-live shows and our mid-week show delivered to your podcast  feed. You can also get a full text transcript of this episode and links  to the resources referenced during the show at and in the podcast episode notes. Thanks for  tuning in. Talk to you next time.