Look, Mom, a Rat!

A new online database lets users – and people charged with drug crimes – post and gather information about local police, federal agents and police informants.
Spotted a rat? If so, the folks at the new website, WhosARat.com, need your help. The site is the brainchild of Bostonian Sean Bucci, who started the venture with the goal of creating a searchable online database where users can post and gather information about local police, federal agents and police informants.

The site makes clear that the information is not intended for use in "targeting" police and their informants, but is intended to aid attorneys and criminal defendants with limited resources.

"Every month, nearly 100,000 Americans are arrested on drug charges," Bucci told the Drug Reform Coordination Network. "What's more, there are over two million people in jail ... because the government dedicates most of its resources to the 'drug war.'

"Although Who's A Rat? was created to assist individuals involved in any criminal matter, we expect it will be particularly helpful to those with drug charges against them," he continued. "Until today, many defendants had no reliable way to get information about the agents that arrested them or the informants that ... often tell outright lies in an effort to get their own criminal charges or sentences reduced."

Since debuting Who's a Rat? earlier this month, Bucci has already amassed more than 200 entries, including a large number from Texas, many of them posted by Lone Star Libertarian Brian Drake, who netted 9 percent of the 2002 vote in his campaign for state representative from The Woodlands.

"The Woodlands is a pretty quiet place, but you'd be horrified at how many drug busts there are – it's pretty much all they have to do," Drake told DRCNet. "If the state is going to have databases on us, it seems only fair that we can have a database of agents and informers as a tool for defense attorneys and defendants."

The database is a resource "for people looking to stay out of trouble," he said, and people "deserve to know whether their neighbor is out there looking to arrest them."
Jordan Smith is a staff writer at the Austin Chronicle.
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