Tag Archive: Radley Balko


Massachusetts SWAT Teams Claim They’re Private Corporations, Immune From Open Records Laws

 

 

 

 

 

 

” As part of the American Civil Liberties Union’s recent report on police militarization, the Massachusetts chapter of the organization sent open records requests to SWAT teams across that state. It received an interesting response.

  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. 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.”

 

 

    This is arrogance of the highest order . For any organizations funded by the taxpayers to claim to be private corporations is beyond the pale . 

 

 


” From the ACLU of Massachusetts’s report on police militarization in that state:

  Approximately 240 of the 351 police departments in Massachusetts belong to an LEC. While set up as “corporations,” LECs are funded by local and federal taxpayer money, are composed exclusively of public police officers and sheriffs, and carry out traditional law enforcement functions through specialized units such as SWAT teams . . .

  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 . . . “

 

 

 

    This situation cannot be allowed to stand . ALL public servants MUST be held accountable for their actions or are we to believe that these “mercenary” SWAT units are merely rogue privateers issued Letters of Marque ? If such is the case then they are no more than pirates and as such must be fought with all possible means  .

   Food for thought: If the SWAT teams are private corporations/private contractors , ala Blackwater ,  then they do not enjoy the legal immunities offered to employees of the State and thus should be subject to civil lawsuits and thus the discovery process … Let the flood gates open .

 

 

   Read the rest from Radley Balko at the Washington Post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Does The Environmental Protection Agency Need Its Own SWAT Team?

 

 
” Nestled in the tranquil Connecticut River watershed of southwest New Hampshire, the city of Keene has largely avoided the violent unrest common to many other urban areas. With a population of only 23,409 people, Keene’s violent crime index is about half the national average.

  Despite the calm, however, local authorities didn’t think twice about requesting a BearCat armored counterattack vehicle from the Department of Homeland Security.

“ Our application talked about the danger of domestic terrorism, but that’s just something you put in the grant application to get the money,” said a Keene City Council member. “What red-blooded American cop isn’t going to be excited about getting a toy like this?

 

 

And if they have it , what “red-blooded American cop” isn’t going to get excited about USING it ?

 

 

” While the possession of an armored vehicle by such a peaceful city may seem strange, the militarization of the Keene police force isn’t an isolated case. Over the past decade, thousands of local police departments nationwide have been amassing stockpiles of military-grade equipment in the name of homeland security. Local police now have the sort of equipment soldiers use to fight wars.”

 

 

   This hard hitting article should be read by all that have an abiding love of liberty and civil rights . This is the type of wisdom to be found as one reads deeper into the article …

 

 

” Why the Founders Didn’t Create a Federal Police Force

  America’s founders were deeply wary of standing armies in peacetime. They could have given the federal government a well-armed federal police agency to “contain and reverse violent threats to domestic tranquility”—but they deliberately didn’t. Instead, they limited the power of the government, the federal government in particular. They wanted to reduce threats to individual liberty.

  The founders realized the danger posed to the American people by police forces that think and act like they are at war. Above all else, the Constitution’s framers believed that government power should be decentralized so that no one person or branch of government could emerge as a force of tyranny. As James Madison said at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, “A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive, will not long be safe companions to liberty.” “

 

 

   Please . Read the whole piece and pass it on . This paragraph gives the reader a chilling example of the mindset existent in today’s police hierarchy and this from the “Live Free Or Die” state …

 

 

” In the summer of 2013, a police chief in Concord, New Hampshire, asked Homeland Security for more than $250,000 to purchase an armored vehicle that he could use to protect the city from the Occupy New Hampshire movement and the Free State Project, a civil libertarian group. “The State of New Hampshire’s experience with terrorism slants primarily toward the domestic type,” he said in his filing. “We are fortunate that our state has not been victimized from a mass casualty event from an international terrorism strike; however, on the domestic front, the threat is real and here. Groups such as the Sovereign Citizens, Free Staters and Occupy New Hampshire are active and present daily challenges.”

 

 

    We’ll leave you with this final example from the article to mull over and consider if the reader believes this country is being turned into a Statist haven or not .

 

 

” Racing Toward a National Catastrophe

  Discarding the laws of the land has become a theme of the current administration. If constitutional separations between federal and local law no longer apply, then the only law that does apply is the law of the jungle. If a federalized police force has more firepower than local police or private citizens, then might makes right.

  If federal agents want to swoop in and confiscate a company’s financial statements, then the executive branch of government “can do what they want, when they want, and there’s nothing you can do about it.” If a city mayor wants an MRAP to stop protests by civil libertarians, then you better hope he wakes up in a benevolent mood, because that’s the only remaining guarantee of public safety.

  Here is what Judge Andrew Napolitano wrote in the Washington Times: “Mr. Obama has argued that he can kill Americans whose deaths he believes will keep us all safer, without any due process whatsoever. No law authorizes that. His attorney general has argued that the president’s careful consideration of each target and the narrow use of deadly force are an adequate and constitutional substitute for due process. No court has ever approved that” (Feb. 7, 2013).”

 

 

    It’s all being done in the name of “public safety” but who is really being made safer ? The public ? Or the State ? For everyone’s sake READ THE ENTIRE PIECE .