Tags: swat | teams | immune | open records | massachusetts

SWAT Teams Immune From Open Records Laws? Some in Mass. Say Yes

By    |   Friday, 27 Jun 2014 07:12 PM

When the ACLU requested records for a report on American policing, a few SWAT teams in Massachusetts claimed they are immune to open record requests because they are part of private corporations.

Those SWAT teams are run by law enforcement councils, or LECs, which are funded by police agencies in a geographic area and are ruled by an executive board. Some of the LECs have incorporated as 501(c)(3) organizations, which don’t have to submit to open records requests.

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“Let’s be clear,” The Washington Post’s Radley Balko writes. “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 report released this week said that police departments are becoming more militarized and using “hyper-aggressive tools and tactics.”

“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,” the ACLU said.

The report, which also pointed to statistics that show SWAT raids are disproportionately against minorities and that 80 percent of them occur when serving search warrants, drew numerous online comments, many concerned about militarization.



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When the ACLU requested records for a report on American policing, a few SWAT teams in Massachusetts claimed they are immune to open record requests because they are part of private corporations.
swat, teams, immune, open records, massachusetts
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2014-12-27
Friday, 27 Jun 2014 07:12 PM
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