Skip to main content

Seeking information regarding the militarization of local police forces the ACLU sent open record requests to SWAT teams across Massachusetts. They had an interesting reason to  refuse the request:

As it turns out, a number of SWAT teams in the Bay State are operated by what are called law enforcement councils, or LECs. These LECs are funded by several police agencies in a given geographic area and overseen by an executive board, which is usually made up of police chiefs from member police departments. In 2012, for example, the Tewksbury Police Department paid about $4,600 in annual membership dues to the North Eastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council, or NEMLEC. (See page 36 of linked PDF.) That LEC has about 50 member agencies. In addition to operating a regional SWAT team, the LECs also facilitate technology and information sharing and oversee other specialized units, such as crime scene investigators and computer crime specialists.

Some of these LECs have also apparently incorporated as 501(c)(3) organizations. And it’s here that we run into problems. According to the ACLU, the LECs are claiming that the 501(c)(3) status means that they’re private corporations, not government agencies. And therefore, they say they’re immune from open records requests

More from Radley Balko at the Washington Post:

Let’s be clear. These agencies oversee police activities. They employ cops who carry guns, wear badges, collect paychecks provided by taxpayers and have the power to detain, arrest, injure and kill. They operate SWAT teams, which conduct raids on private residences. And yet they say that because they’ve incorporated, they’re immune to Massachusetts open records laws. The state’s residents aren’t permitted to know how often the SWAT teams are used, what they’re used for, what sort of training they get or who they’re primarily used against.
The ACLU has a similar view:
Due to the weakness of Massachusetts public records law and the culture of secrecy that has infected local police departments and Law Enforcement Councils, procuring empirical records from police departments and regional SWAT teams in Massachusetts about police militarization was universally difficult and, in most instances, impossible . . .

Police departments and regional SWAT teams are public institutions, working with public money, meant to protect and serve the public’s interest. If these institutions do not maintain and make public comprehensive and comprehensible documents pertaining to their operations and tactics, the people cannot judge whether officials are acting appropriately or make needed policy changes when problems arise . . .

Hiding behind the argument that they are private corporations not subject to the public records laws, the LECs have refused to provide documents regarding their SWAT team policies and procedures. They have also failed to disclose anything about their operations, including how many raids they have executed or for what purpose

The war on drugs is a war on people, and it is being conducted as recklessly as our excursions into the Middle East with about as much oversight. The attempt at winning hearts and minds has long since passed, and all we are left with is a continual state of 'shock and awe'.
The ACLU survey found that only 7 percent of SWAT missions involved incidents they were originally designed to handle – such as hostage situations or shootings – while 62 percent of their mission involved drug searches.
Is it not time to come to the realization that its just not worth this?

Originally posted to LieparDestin on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 05:15 AM PDT.

Also republished by Police Accountability Group.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Meteor Blades, fly, bink, Thumb, RakDaddy, paradox, Angie in WA State, Joe Bob, jazzmaniac, deben, Timaeus, Geenius at Wrok, PeterHug, Shockwave, jazzizbest, Pompatus, xynz, freelunch, Bryce in Seattle, Ahianne, hubcap, Babsnc, TracieLynn, sponson, whenwego, KMc, boadicea, otto, Torta, ornerydad, Nate Roberts, Iberian, dksbook, wader, kharma, psnyder, TexDem, CitizenOfEarth, pat bunny, white blitz, HeyMikey, NYFM, Dood Abides, zerelda, ybruti, bibble, sb, nailbender, CPT Doom, Dirk McQuigley, Skennet Boch, davidincleveland, kbman, marina, UncleCharlie, Tonedevil, chimene, basquebob, ChemBob, viral, YucatanMan, Kevskos, eru, Sun Tzu, GreyHawk, Kayakbiker, Overseas, lotlizard, stevemb, wgard, PinHole, Tool, sodalis, snoopydawg, berko, tarheelblue, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, Kingsmeg, Mr Bojangles, cardboardurinal, bastrop, Yellow Canary, cookseytalbott, mooshter, koNko, AoT, StrayCat, philipmerrill, 4Freedom, Rosaura, NearlyNormal, ER Doc, middleagedhousewife, vivian darkbloom, BlueMississippi, IL clb, CA Nana, shaharazade, Statusquomustgo, NancyWH, bstotts, AllanTBG, Aaa T Tudeattack, One Pissed Off Liberal, out of left field, ColoTim, yoduuuh do or do not, Msinformed, edsbrooklyn, FishOutofWater, Via Chicago, operculum, Uncle Moji, klondike, bobswern, jnhobbs, Wreck Smurfy, skod, shmuelman, Empower Ink, rmonroe, MKinTN, CroneWit, flowerfarmer, wayoutinthestix, zerone, Youffraita, dadadata, Calamity Jean, triplepoint, temptxan, Notreadytobenice, chalatenango, Parthenia, Al Fondy, billybam, shortgirl, J M F, divineorder, nextstep, Carol in San Antonio, Norm in Chicago, Methinks They Lie, notrouble, shopkeeper, dRefractor, glitterlust, KenInCO, jfromga, Livvy5, Just Bob, The Jester, serendipityisabitch, Anima, mookins, Polly Syllabic, Lost and Found, cordgrass, I Lurked For Years, gulfgal98, dlemex, Kristina40, DiegoUK, Publius2008, rja, Betty Pinson, DrTerwilliker, Oh Mary Oh, slice, kerflooey, allenjo, Oldowan, slowbutsure, AdamR510, Susipsych, FarWestGirl, lexalou, Nicci August, Teiresias70, trumpeter, Haf2Read, zukesgirl64, IllanoyGal, thomask, muddy boots, tardis10, PhilJD, Caddis Fly, blue muon, cailloux, ratcityreprobate, Miggles, leftykook, SouthernLiberalinMD, No one gets out alive, YaNevaNo, OldDragon, Flying Goat, Catskill Julie, greenbastard, IndieGuy, Eric Nelson, barkingcat, Joieau, a2nite, 420 forever, Trotskyrepublican, Yonkers Boy, Mike RinRI, peachcreek, Forward is D not R, jan4insight, belinda ridgewood, Syoho, doroma, wxorknot, FrY10cK, AverageJoe42, MusicFarmer, Glen The Plumber, George3, Windowpane, BradyB, madcitysailor, nuclear winter solstice, Lily O Lady, Chaddiwicker, Dancun74, TheMeansAreTheEnd, countwebb, gypsytoo, Joy of Fishes, leeleedee, Jollie Ollie Orange, northerntier, bob152, OjaiValleyCali, ET3117, Demeter Rising, tampaedski, jplanner, River Rover, mmcnary, oslyn7, TheDuckManCometh, hwy70scientist, CenPhx, old mule, Penny GC, bygorry, theBreeze, wiggin01, ChuckChuckerson, allie4fairness, nicestjerk, Silencio

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site