SWAT Teams Claim ‘Corporate’ Exemption From Public Scrutiny

ACLU hits brick wall after issuing public records requests for information about deadly force, incident reports, and more.

Common Dreams, By Sarah Lazare, June 27

Operators of Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams comprised of tax payer-funded police and sheriffs in Massachusetts claim they are immune to public records requests about deadly force, incident reports, and more because they are private “corporations.”

In addition to SWAT teams run by individual towns, many of these military-style domestic policing units are operated by regional “law enforcement councils,” which are bankrolled by tax-payer money and comprised of publicly-funded police and sheriffs. According to the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, approximately 240 of the 351 police departments in Massachusetts belong to these LECs.

Some of these LECs have become incorporated with 501(c)(3) status—a classification they say makes them exempt from public records requests.

Jessie Rossman, staff attorney for the ACLU of Massachusetts, told Common Dreams that her organization issued records requests to “a couple of LECs” to obtain information about their policies for a recent report on the militarization of local police. “We got responses from individuals claiming to speak on behalf of the LECs saying they would not be responding because they do not believe they are subject to public records law,” she explained.

Unaccountable Mercenary SWAT teams… huh.

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