Wikipedia talk:Notability (law enforcement agencies)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Rationale for this proposal[edit]

Originally at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Law Enforcement#Notability[edit]

The following is an archived discussion concerning notability of law enforcement agencies. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in new sections on the discussion page, by clicking here.

In light of the above AfD, I think we need to decide on some criteria for notability, or if some already exist then find them, for police departments. Any ideas, do some exist already? SGGH speak! 10:16, 12 June 2008 (UTC)

Whatever criteria is used, it should include a very large percentage of departments of cities over a million people, a very small percentage of departments of small towns, and an in-between percentage of departments from medium-sized cities. In a nutshell, the criteria should be "Notable among police departments," i.e. either famous or infamous inside or outside of law enforcement. For example, running a model crime lab that is copied by numerous other departments, or running a shoddy crime lab that sets the standard for what not to do. Also, we are talking about departments that are connected to a town or other larger body, i.e. departments whose content can be part of a larger article. Stand-alone entities, such as the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, bounty hunters, private military organizations, etc., would have to qualify under general notability requirements. davidwr/(talk)/(contribs)/(e-mail) 21:27, 12 June 2008 (UTC)

Agreed As a relatively new wikipedian I am rather confused where the line in the sand regarding notability is drawn. At the top end of the scale, there is no problem with notability, for an obviously notable item it is obvious. The problem is where notability trails off. I have seen a few debates about notability and it seems to me that it boils down more to the number of wikipedians with some interest in the topic rather than consistent intrinsic notability.

My view is that any entity or idea which has or has had a non trivial impact on the fabric, structure, or social norms of the society it is or was part of is inherently and intrinsicly notable. This could be a single major impact for a short time or many minor impacts over a long period of time. This would include all settlements as it does now, and probably all fire/police/ambulance etc. It would not include the local florist or hair dresser. Note that this should also exclude many of the horse jockeys, never heard of by 99.9999999% of the population pop music groups and recordings, and many of the who on earth were they sports people, but would include all sports people representing their country no matter how briefly, and would include most politicians, so while my suggestion would include Oak Bay Police Department, it is still a higher bar than the current wiki standard.
While it is easy to do a google measure, this really only measures material with very recent electronic relevance. We need to be careful of any measure we use to ensure that they are invertable, that is, a measure whose high values show notability, does a low value mean not notable ? This is not the case with the google measure. There is a massive amount of yet to be converted hard copy material in archives world wide.

I suspect there is somewhere like the village pump where a link to this discussion could be sent to encourage consensus building. I agree to rely only on the "google test" is somewhat ridiculous. SGGH speak! 22:05, 13 June 2008 (UTC)

Peet Ern (talk)
Exactly. A point I have made again and again. Too many editors seem to believe that if it's not featured highly on a Google search then it's not notable. That standard means that very minor modern "celebrities" are notable and many important figures from history who are not considered important in modern pop culture are not notable, which is clearly ridiculous. Print sources are every bit as relevant for notability as electronic sources (if not more so, since it takes time and effort to publish a print source against a few minutes to stick something on a website).
My instinct is to keep all articles on law enforcement agencies, however small, for the reasons given by Peet Ern. However, I can see the difficulties with the thousands of small American municipal police departments, most of which have little to distinguish one from the other. While I would not personally propose any article on an agency for deletion or support any attempt to delete such an article, I would say we should definitely keep the following and argue strenuously for their retention:
  • a) All national agencies, whatever the size.
  • b) All other territorial agencies with at least one hundred officers (which covers the police departments of pretty much all cities and counties of any size in the USA and Canada).
  • c) All specialist agencies (e.g. park, port, airport etc police), whatever the size (they tend to be much more interesting and varied than ordinary territorial agencies).
  • d) Any agency that has had extensive media coverage or a particular reason to be covered, as per usual notability guidelines.
-- Necrothesp (talk) 08:16, 13 June 2008 (UTC)
100 may be too low a bar, and there are way too many specialized agencies. First off, notability shouldn't be an automatic cutoff: We should set our criteria so it is extremely likely police forces greater than some size would qualify and pretty unlikely that police forces smaller than some other size will not. For example, if we think "100" is a good number, then if our policy excludes relatively few departments that have more than 100 officers and excludes most departments that have, say, fewer than 50, then we know we accomplished the goal. I don't know if 100 is too low a bar - we need to get dept. sizes for cities of 100,000-1,000,000 people so we can see what we want to make sure we include.
Also, these days many schools, hospitals, and other government entities have their own police forces. Many of these police forces are small, consisting of only a handful of officers. There's a big difference between the University Of Bigstate Campus Police Department with 50 officers and Small Regional College Campus Police Dept. with 5 officers or Local Community School District Police Department with 2 sworn officers. davidwr/(talk)/(contribs)/(e-mail) 14:01, 13 June 2008 (UTC)
National agencies should only be covered if that country considers them of high importance. If it's a cabinet-level or immediate-sub-cabinet-level position, then sure. If the national police function more like park police than the FBI, hardly ever get a mention in the media except when a crime occurs in a national park or when budget time comes around, and on paper they report to the head of the park service who reports to the assistant undersecretary of the interior, then I think we can exclude this one. I'm not saying there are any such police departments, only that it shouldn't be automatic. In any case we should defer to judgments of the locality wikiproject for national police forces. davidwr/(talk)/(contribs)/(e-mail) 14:05, 13 June 2008 (UTC)
I don't really agree with this. The Kew Constabulary, for instance, is a very small force, but I think it still deserves an article. School and college forces may be an exception, since I agree that there are a large number of them in the USA and most of them are much the same as each other. Your national criteria would exclude the United States Park Police (who are pretty much exactly what you describe), which I think is a little extreme! In the US, incidentally, departments with about 100 officers usually police cities of about 40,000 population (so one can probably assume that cities of 100,000 probably average about 200-250 officers). You may want to look at a draft list which I compiled some time ago to get some idea of department sizes in the USA. -- Necrothesp (talk) 14:20, 13 June 2008 (UTC)
Both the US Park Police and the Kew Constabulary should only be included if they have "extensive media coverage or a particular reason to be covered, as per usual notability guidelines." I know the Park Police has, if it is notable, then the Kew Constabulary has also. Those who don't qualify can be in a larger list. davidwr/(talk)/(contribs)/(e-mail) 16:19, 13 June 2008 (UTC)

Perhaps we should draw up a debate over at WP:N? SGGH speak! 22:07, 13 June 2008 (UTC)

Other Idea[edit]

Perhaps we should create a guideline Page such as WP:SCHOOL and name it something like WP:POLICE (with the full name of Wikipedia:Notability (police)) and then move this discussion to the talk page of WP:POLICE because if you look at WP:SCHOOL the guideline is still being worked on/tweaked even though the page has already been created and it eliminates the need to hop back here to see the discussion because all the discussion can be kept on the same page as the guideline will be once we can all agree on something and achieve consensus and make it an official policy. Also, when we finalize the guideline it will be easier for people to find the discussion from which the guideline came out of thus improving transparency making it easier for future editors to find the original discussion and change the guideline as necessary in the future. All the Best,--Mifter (talk) 00:10, 15 June 2008 (UTC)
I would support this idea. SGGH speak! 10:42, 23 June 2008 (UTC)
I support it too. I also think there needs to be more intrinsic definitive material in WP:N. WP:N really reads as notable elsewhere so it can be notable in Wikipedia, rather than it is notable because of the nature of the thing the article is about so it can be notable in Wikipedia. Peet Ern (talk) 04:42, 7 July 2008 (UTC)

First cut - Notability (law enforcement agency)[edit]

I have drafted a first cut at User:Pee Tern/Notability (law enforcement agency).

If it has merit, please let me know so that I can move it into WP space.

Comments here please if any before it gets moved for the full discussion.

Peet Ern (talk) 07:37, 7 July 2008 (UTC)

If I see nothing contrary on this in the next 18 hours or so, I will move it into WP space and set up the talk page for the debate, including "archiving" this section, and referencing the other related current discussions.
Note that based on the first cut above of the notability guide Oak Bay Police Department would probably NOT be deemed notable, BUT Larne Harbour Police probably WOULD BE deemed notable. There would probably be a very close match to the classification in Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Law Enforcement#Intent to PROD non-notable Canadian municipal police departments.
Only comment here on the proposal if you feel the first cut above should not be initiated as a proposal. Discussing its content will be part of the proposal.
My main concern with what I have drafted is that if we take a line like it, it is so much higher than vast numbers of other crap articles / micro stubs, etc. in other subject areas.
Cheers. Peet Ern (talk) 05:23, 9 July 2008 (UTC)

The above is preserved as an archive of the discussion. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in new sections on the discussion page, by clicking here. No further edits should be made to this section.

See also, for example[edit]



To do list[edit]

  • Debate proposal
  • Proposal edits

Proposal discussion starts here[edit]

Increase scope?[edit]

How about expanding this proposal to discuss which types of local government agencies offering services to the public are notable. Also including:

  • Fire departments (entire departments - all locations)
  • Schools (systems and individual schools)
  • Libraries (entire systems)
  • Public transportation (systems, lines, and stations)
  • Courts and courthouses
  • City and town halls

I have seen these brought up sometimes in AfDs. Can you think of any more to list? Sebwite (talk) 00:29, 10 July 2008 (UTC)

It might be appropriate to include emergency services such as fire, ambulance, search and rescue, etc., but it would be too broad for the others to be included I think. They should have their own guidelines. Note that there is already a Wikipedia:Notability (schools), and a Wikipedia:Notability (Places and transportation). Peet Ern (talk) 01:09, 10 July 2008 (UTC)
    • Oppose - It's a great idea, expanding the scope of a process like this to include most of not all of your suggestions Sebwite, and Pee Tern. However, I feel that we should see the community's breadth of opinion for this Law Enforcement discussion prior to achieving a consensus on more agencies. After this is successful there will be a Wikiacceptable guideline for the next policy discussion in which we can include a wider scope of agencies due to the community being comfortable with the previously defined guidelines for Law Enforcement. I will add more to the list though for, what I hope to be, a future, subsequent to the success of this one, process. Beam 01:25, 10 July 2008 (UTC)

Defining the Scope[edit]

I think the overall scope needs better difinition. As it currently stands ("This guidance applies to articles about the law enforcement agency.") the broadness of the statement is going to cause repeditive problems at AFD's. Does this guideline actually apply to the CFIA because it is listed at List of law enforcement agencies? Also, this guideline should, specifically, address the problem of "is a Security Guard Agency a Law Enforcement Agency?" (I'm biased so not elegible to edit, but I dont want the same argument to repeat at AFD) Exit2DOS2000TC 07:08, 19 July 2008 (UTC)

Comment: From its own article the CFIA clearly is a regulatory authority rather than a law enforcement agency. It should not be listed at List of law enforcement agencies?
This then just leads to the question, Are regulatory authorities just a sub class of law enforcement agencies. Regulatory authorities tend to have a much lower key impact on society than law enforcement agencies.
One test might be Can the regulatory authority act on its own behalf for ALL matters within its jurisdiction, or for some or more serious matters does it need law enforcement agency support for appropriate powers. If the former, then it is possibly/probably a law enforcement agency, if the latter then it is NOT a law enforcement agency.
Similarly, for security guard agencies. If the security guard agency can act on all matters within its jurisdiction (related to the law) on its own behalf then it is a law enforcement agency, if not then it is not.
This will mean that many regulatory authorities are law enforcement agencies, but not all, and that most security guard agencies are not law enforcement agencies. This does not mean that they are not contributing to law enforcement.
The above does not have any real impact on notability. It is about how the agency is described and defined to be.
Peet Ern (talk) 02:16, 21 July 2008 (UTC)
That sort of definition I would encourage to be used within the Scope, ("act on its own behalf for ALL matters") as it would be a absolute definition of the organization, rather than one more open to interpretation Exit2DOS2000TC 23:28, 21 July 2008 (UTC)
An afterthought arises; What about a situation of the reverse. Where a regulatory authority needs to be brought in to press a case of enforcement at the Police request. Eg. environmental spill/leak/hazard, Police do not have jurisdiction, and so technically fall outside of "ALL matters"...eek... was that a can of worms I just heard open :P. Wording could be tricky, but not impossible. Perhaps "ALL matters of the generally accepted codified law" or somesuch. Exit2DOS2000TC 04:52, 29 July 2008 (UTC)
Wriggle and squirm! You are right to raise the issue of the definitional boundary between LEAs and RAs. However, I do not think it can be addressed here. You might be better raising it a Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Law Enforcement . Cheers. Peet Ern (talk) 04:46, 30 July 2008 (UTC)

Criteria counting[edit]

Question Are the criteria in the current draft and or or. In other words, to be notable, does an agency have to satisfy all the criteria, or any one of them? --Hroðulf (or Hrothulf) (Talk) 20:57, 10 July 2008 (UTC)

In drafting the guideline my intention was for the weight of the overall criteria, that is if any one of the criteria are stong enough then it is notable, so they can be ored, if the there are marginal aspects under more than one criteria which when considered in combination make a strong case then it is notable, so they can be anded. Really, they are more arithmetically additative to get to a threshold rather than boolean. But in the end it is still subjective rather than objective. We are just trying to reduce the amount of subjectivity to get some more consistency, and better quality articles. Peet Ern (talk) 22:45, 10 July 2008 (UTC)

Based on the Current Criteria...[edit]

Would the Tombstone Sherriff's office or whatever it may be be considered notable because Wyatt Earp was a Sherrif there? Is that enough to have an article about the Sherrif's office itself? It would have a history, sherrifs, signifigant events, decline, legacy breakdown to the article I would imagine. Well? Notable or not? Beam 01:05, 10 July 2008 (UTC)

I think yes, but NOT mainly because of Wyatt Earp's presence, more because it has been repeatedly fictionalised in popular media. My reading of Earp is that he was not actually the "legend" he now is? Such an arcticle might actually commit significnant content removing the mystique? Peet Ern (talk) 02:26, 10 July 2008 (UTC)

One more example: The Marshfield, MA Police Department? Beam 01:42, 10 July 2008 (UTC)

What criteria or indicators are you relying on? Peet Ern (talk) 02:26, 10 July 2008 (UTC)

Simply that it's a local police station in a town in Massachusetts. It, of course, has made many arrests (including notable ones). Is that enough for the Law Enforcement notability? Beam 11:18, 10 July 2008 (UTC)

If they have made a series of notable arrests over time, that is the arrests/case/incident warrant articles in their own right then I would say yes. If they have made only a handlful, possibly not, unless the arrest/s had national or international significance, and were very notable. Peet Ern (talk) 22:50, 10 July 2008 (UTC)

Future Notibility Clause[edit]

Hi everyone, I have just added a clause to the guidline (Diff) about the possibility that an article that was judged to be non-notable gaining notability due to some event or the discovery or information that proves that Agency's notability.

This was the text that I added.

Also, if an article fails the criteria for notability at one time, that does NOT mean that it could never be notable and could never have its own article, if an editor is able to find sufficient evidence that an law enforcement agency that was judged to be non-notable in the past is now notable and passes both Wikipedia:Notability and this guidline, than editors are encouraged to be Bold in writing an article for the Law Enforcement agency making sure to cite Reliable Sources in order to establish notability and that it passes Wikipedia:Notability and this guidline.

Feel free to tweak it as you see fit, but I think that this is a necessary clause in the guidline because it allows for future notability to allow for a previous judgment of non-notability to be overturned due to new information or events. Thanks and All the Best, --Mifter (talk) 14:39, 19 July 2008 (UTC)

Primary sources[edit]

It would seem to me that the following ==Note== seems to be allowing WP:Primary sources of info to establish WP:Notability. Are these type of Stats not simply Press Releases given to crime reporters?

^ Simple reporting of crime statistics and clear up rates (a routine process for most law enforcement agencies) does not establish notability. However, a law enforcement agency causing a significant reduction in a crime type does count towards establishing notability.

... but its possible I'm reading to much into it... Exit2DOS2000TC 00:12, 23 July 2008 (UTC)

I think perhaps you are over reading it. Simple crime stats reporting does NOT establish notability, no matter how much or by whom, even secondary sources - perhaps this needs to be made explicit in the guideline. A report of a major change in crime trends could I suppose be a primary source, provided it was an audited/accountable report, subject to open review, for example, the annual report to the agency's governing body, which then by definition is a publically auditable document, etc., but if the change in trend is significant, for better or worse, then it will almost certainly appear independantly in secondary sources anyway. Peet Ern (talk) 00:36, 23 July 2008 (UTC)


What is the value of a book about an agency if it's written by a member of that agency, but with an independent press? See the source I just added to Louisville Metro Police Department... it's written by a longtime officer but independently published. It gives a very favorable opinion of the department, from a skimming over of it I made, but nevertheless it's full-length book about the agency. Does it still establish notability? --Rividian (talk) 20:34, 28 July 2008 (UTC)

This I think is more of a question for notability policy generally. The same could apply to any institution.
It might depend on how the book was edited, and reviewed, and the style of the publisher, for example, if the publisher was an academic press it might have more weight than if the publisher was an "airline lounge novel" publisher.
Or, possibly the book itself does not count to notabiltiy at all. Things described in the book might though. The book could be used as a source of (caveated) references? Peet Ern (talk) 04:34, 30 July 2008 (UTC)