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Massachusetts SWAT Teams Claim They're Private Corporations, Immune To Oversight

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the you-can-trust-us dept.

Government 534

New submitter thermowax sends a report on how Massachusetts SWAT teams are dodging open records requests by claiming to be corporations. From the article: 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. ... 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.

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Repeat after me... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47331791)

Citizen, you will be sent to a re-education camp. Cease resisting and comply with the security officer's request.

Re:Repeat after me... (0, Flamebait)

knightghost (861069) | about 5 months ago | (#47331935)

Not really, you're thinking about Politicians rather than police.

On one hand, damn all lawyers! The corporation stance is stupid legal wrangling. On the other hand, I'd never become a cop due to the incredibly ridiculous amount of liability, red tape, blatantly lying "news" channels and papers, and blame for having to enforce bad laws.

Go do some ride-alongs with your local police to see what they put up with.

Shill (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47331983)

If you are not a cop then I'm toto the flying fluffy dog.

Re:Repeat after me... (5, Insightful)

MobSwatter (2884921) | about 5 months ago | (#47331993)

Automatic weapons in the hands of corporate employee's protected by a shield? Anyone else see the potential for drama here? I cannot fathom that a ride along will justify this in my mind.

Re:Repeat after me... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47332091)

"They put up with massive amounts of shit so they should be allowed to get away with this..."
That is your defense?

Re:Repeat after me... (5, Insightful)

sycodon (149926) | about 5 months ago | (#47332101)

No, he's right.

SWAT is out of control and needs some serious reigning in. They should be limited to being deployed only where there is solid information that a suspect is armed and dangerous. Addresses should be checked by no less than three people...one on the team, the team supervisor, and upper level supervision. Targets should be observed and confirmed to be present and all attempts made to apprehend them outside of residences.

Further, team members should be criminally and civilly liable for the injury and deaths of innocents at their hand.

Too many innocent people are being killed and maimed by SWAT raids, too many SWAT raids are occurring, and too many times there is no repercussion for fucking things up and blowing a hole in little kid's chest. [ajc.com]

If, during an interaction between law enforcement and the public, someone dies, the best option is that it's the bad guy killed by a cop. Second best option is it's a cop killed by a bad guy, the worst option and one that should be avoided at all costs, even the cost of the life of a cop, is an innocent civilian being killed by a cop.

You can't have representatives of the State killing innocents and then just saying "Whoops, my bad" and then throwing money at the family.

Libertarian nirvana (0, Flamebait)

qbast (1265706) | about 5 months ago | (#47331803)

What's wrong with that? Libertarians should love this - government slashed to bare minimum (or below) and everything in private hands. And as we know, *everything* is better when privately operated. Next step should be deregulating LEC market to enable true competition.

Re:Libertarian nirvana (4, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | about 5 months ago | (#47331833)

Not a libertarian, but to play devil's advocate for a moment: the problem is that they're a state-appointed-and-run agency, so this isn't properly privatised. You have the bad half of privatisation, but not the good half. You could argue that if the system was actually an open market with private security firms competing for the government's business then you'd have open-ness.

Now as far as I'm concerned, history has proven that it'd never actually work out that way, but there you go.

Re:Libertarian nirvana (4, Informative)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 5 months ago | (#47331963)

This is simply a contracting issue. The state can put disclosure and transparency requirements in the contract, the private company can agree or not get the contract. Failure to properly contract is the problem.

Re:Libertarian nirvana (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 5 months ago | (#47332109)

Yes, that's one of the things I'd assume a private firm would have to offer to get the contract in a free market. Although obviously in this case I suppose they could've just mandated that.

Re:Libertarian nirvana (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47332011)

It's not so much about being devils advocate.

If they are a private entity then they are a criminal organization that is engaging in kidnapping, murder, breaking and entering and other activities that makes it legal to shoot them in self defense if you spot them on your property.

Re:Libertarian nirvana (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47332075)

They're the ones with the automatic weapons, body armour, teargas etc. so while it might be (but almost certainly would be ruled not to be) legal to shoot them in self defence it's probably quite impractical. Highly likely to get you some new ventilation holes though.

Re:Libertarian nirvana (4, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | about 5 months ago | (#47331835)

Libertarians should love this

What's your next guess, asshole?

Libertarians are against the initiation of violence, whether the perps are government thugs or quasi-private organizations like this. You can shove your smug little digs right back up the hole it came from.

-jcr

Re:Libertarian nirvana (5, Funny)

50000BTU_barbecue (588132) | about 5 months ago | (#47331861)

That sounds pretty violent.

Re:Libertarian nirvana (3, Insightful)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 5 months ago | (#47331979)

Well, he never said that he was a Libertarian.

Re:Libertarian nirvana (0)

operagost (62405) | about 5 months ago | (#47332107)

And he also exhorted the OP to shove his "smug little digs" back up his own hole, rather than offering to do it for him.

Re:Libertarian nirvana (5, Funny)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 5 months ago | (#47332045)

If you read it carefully jcr was actually suggesting the OP should harm himself rather than rely on others to attack him.

Re:Libertarian nirvana (-1, Troll)

jythie (914043) | about 5 months ago | (#47331875)

Well, no, libertarians in the current erra are against 3rd party public oversight of initiated violence. Private violence between free citizens is fine, and if one citizen can afford more violence then another, well, that other one should have worked harder. But since they are poor rather then middle class, if they pool their resources to protect themselves that is communism, so they should just get under the umbrella of some maker and try not to leach off them in order to be protected.

Re:Libertarian nirvana (5, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 5 months ago | (#47331969)

Well, no, libertarians in the current erra are against 3rd party public oversight of initiated violence.

It never stops entertaining me when someone who's not a member of a group feels compelled to explain to people who are members of the group how the aforementioned group thinks.

Re:Libertarian nirvana (3, Insightful)

itzly (3699663) | about 5 months ago | (#47332061)

It is about as entertaining when a member of a group feels compelled to explain how other members of the group think.

Re:Libertarian nirvana (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 5 months ago | (#47332099)

It never stops entertaining me when someone who's not a member of a group feels compelled to explain to people who are members of the group how the aforementioned group thinks.

Ah, I see, you're one of them Scientologists.

Re: Libertarian nirvana (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47332019)

Nothing you said is actually a libertarian principle. For example, if a group of people decide to create a comune and pool all their money then we libertarians have no issue with that what so ever. So long as nobody is forced to be a member and any member can leave if they want to.

Re: Libertarian nirvana (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47332081)

I have never heard a libertarian who would agree with you. Every single one I know of would vehemently battle the socializing of common defense.

Re:Libertarian nirvana (-1, Troll)

qbast (1265706) | about 5 months ago | (#47331877)

You must be true libertarian - your post really sounds all peace-loving. Don't forget to clean spittle from screen.

Re:Libertarian nirvana (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47331933)

Heh. I see what you did there.

Re:Libertarian nirvana (2)

itzly (3699663) | about 5 months ago | (#47332043)

The only way to control violence is with violence. So being against it doesn't make any sense.

Re:Libertarian nirvana (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47332065)

Libertarians are against the initiation of violence

And having been around libertarians a lot, the big problem is that they change the definition of "initiation of violence" every time it suits them. When someone does something they don't like, it magically becomes "initiation of violence", when they do the same thing against another human being, then magically, it's no longer "initiation of violence".

Re:Libertarian nirvana (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47331841)

LEC A uses 40% more unnecessary violence, clearly they are superior to LEC B. We know it will cost the taxpayer 20% more but we do get 40% more violence for that. Let's switch our city contract to them...

Re:Libertarian nirvana (1, Insightful)

qbast (1265706) | about 5 months ago | (#47331871)

You are joking, but I can see something like 'number of arrests per dollar spent' becoming a way to compare and select LEC.

Re:Libertarian nirvana (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 5 months ago | (#47331853)

Not really, given that this is still being paid for by taxpayers. Actual libertarians wouldn't support this because the reality is that this is a very large government entity using bureaucracy to avoid accountability.

Re:Libertarian nirvana (5, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about 5 months ago | (#47332027)

No, this is a government entity which has decided it isn't a government entity, but still has the right to operate as if it were.

Sorry, but a government entity doesn't get to declare independence from the part that gives is legitimacy.

If these guys are a corporation, they can pay their own salaries, and operate under the sames rules as private security firms. Which means they're no longer police officers.

If they want to be law enforcement, well, that means they aren't private corporations, and they are subject to oversight.

Especially when they have a history of playing fast and loose with the law, 'using fictional informants to obtain warrants ', and other shady activities.

Re:Libertarian nirvana (2)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | about 5 months ago | (#47331881)

What's wrong with that? Libertarians should love this - government slashed to bare minimum (or below) and everything in private hands. And as we know, *everything* is better when privately operated. Next step should be deregulating LEC market to enable true competition.

Like Martin Niemöller [ushmm.org] pointed out, nobody cares about things like this until they are being targeted themselves. I don't expect Libertarians to be any different.

Re:Libertarian nirvana (1)

GoddersUK (1262110) | about 5 months ago | (#47331893)

What's wrong with that comment? Scarecrows should love this - a huge straw man deliberately elevated to the level of (attempted) serious discussion. Everything is better with logical fallacies. Next step should be ad hominem and argument from emotion to eliminate true discussion.

Re:Libertarian nirvana (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47332097)

And it can't be long before someone invokes Godwin's law... WWHD?

Re:Libertarian nirvana (2)

mi (197448) | about 5 months ago | (#47331909)

Libertarians should love this - government slashed to bare minimum (or below) and everything in private hands.

Except they aren't in private hands — they are paid for by the tax-payers.

And, BTW, most Libertarians do agree, that law-enforcement is the government's function — the sole one, perhaps. Oh, it may be provided by private companies, but those must be hired by and operate on the authority of the local governments.

Re:Libertarian nirvana (5, Interesting)

DarkOx (621550) | about 5 months ago | (#47331923)

I think most libertarians would say there is nothing wrong with government outsourcing law enforcement; but there is something wrong with doing so as a way to skirt legal requirements.

In this example the PEOPLE have enacted records requirements for state and local law enforcement. If the various municipalities want to outsource that is fine but whoever they hire needs to be subject to the same legal requirements. If they are working for the 'state' they are state actors and should be expected to follow the same rules the state is subject; that should be in their contract and if they don't want to agree to those terms then they can't bid on the job. Just like if I want my house painted, anyone is welcome to bid on the job but if you won't make it the color I want than I can't hire you. If the LEC can't follow the records rules for all activities related to their working for law enforcement they can't be hired or that is how it should work.

As a libertarian though my main issue is really with the state having to much power in the first place. Private security forces are just fine, but they should work for private groups. Your home owners association should be hiring security to keep your neighborhood safe for example, they naturally don't get the legal protection and police powers a 'state' agency would have, which is a powerful and important check on them and you.

Re:Libertarian nirvana (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 5 months ago | (#47332063)

What's wrong with that? Libertarians should love this - government slashed to bare minimum (or below) and everything in private hands. And as we know, *everything* is better when privately operated. Next step should be deregulating LEC market to enable true competition.

You have absolutely no idea what libertarianism is about. It's about LIBERTY from both government and corporate interests... as well as fellow citizens. Shedding one master for another is stupid.

Re:Libertarian nirvana (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47332113)

Yeah, it bugs me when people think libertarians love corporations. Libertarians love freedom. Fuck the goverment, and fuck corporations too.

Runnnnnn (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47331811)

security through obscurity at his finest, Hail America's Corporations Now or be SWATed

Private entities? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47331813)

So, if they're not government entities, then they're private entities, and as such not entitled to qualified immunity for their actions, right? So if they damage a house or hurt an individual, they're on the hook for damages (and criminal actions), and can't claim immunity from the courts...

Re:Private entities? (5, Interesting)

jythie (914043) | about 5 months ago | (#47331885)

When that comes up they are magically government entities again. I would guess that their employees are public but the management team is private, so documents and records are in private hands while all actions which could lead to litigation are being preformed by public servants.

Re:Private entities? (4, Insightful)

msauve (701917) | about 5 months ago | (#47332103)

Cops working for private corporations (e.g. sidelining as concert security) are not performing as public servants, and are personally liable for their actions. This should be no different.

This is what they will read about (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47331817)

in history class in a thousand years. That one by one, "private" corporations installed themselves, cancer-like, into the public money stream while at the same time claiming to be "private".

While the population 3D printed coffee cups and masturbated to Mars fantasies.

Re:This is what they will read about (5, Interesting)

DUdsen (545226) | about 5 months ago | (#47332041)

It's strangely enough not the first time America was under corporate rules, The original Boston tea party did not actually target the British government but "The Company" an organization that looks a lot like the modern multinationals with the exception that it actually employed mercenary armies and ran most of the British Colonies. But then again modern megacorps are getting closer to the same power and structure as the East India Companies" as time progresses and will be even more powerful and even more entangled with the government then the old East India Companies if the trend continues.

Another strange detail of history is that Adam Smith's "Wealth Of Nations" were written to explain exactly how dangerous those kind of organizations were. And yet those now advocating a return to Mercantilism claims to be followers of Adam Smith ideals.

Is this our future? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47331819)

What a clever way to get around constitutional limits on governmental powers! And the 501(c)(3) thing is a stroke of genius; now taxes cannot be used to rein in their power. The latest court rulings deregulating campaign finance rules could be the final stroke that turns this type of organization into an untouchable omnipotent authority. (Not trying to run afoul of Godwin's Law, but think along the lines of Nazi Germany in the late 30's/early 40's.

Re:Is this our future? (2)

jythie (914043) | about 5 months ago | (#47331903)

I think a better thing to pull on would be the private police forces of the 'robber baron' era of US history where police forces were provided for by the local companies and did not exactly have the workers (or 3rd parties in the region) interest in mind.

As a Massachusetts resident... (5, Interesting)

hubang (692671) | about 5 months ago | (#47331821)

If that's how they want to play it, the solution is simple. No taxpayer funding.

Wasn't "No taxation without representation" coined in (what became) the Commonwealth?

Re:As a Massachusetts resident... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47331843)

If that's how they want to play it, the solution is simple. No taxpayer funding.

They're not bribes, they're tax-deductible donations to a 501(c)3 charitable organization!

that's not the simple solution... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47331879)

that will create a private army paid for by the rich, right here on US soil. The simple solution is, no open records = no policing powers.

Then the raids will just increase (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47331911)

Part of their "funding" comes from the stuff they seize in "drug raids". They dont even have to charge anyone for drug related crimes.

Re:As a Massachusetts resident... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47331943)

That means they should also forfeit the right to sovereign immunity. So fuck these assholes.

Re:As a Massachusetts resident... (5, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 5 months ago | (#47331977)

That means they should also forfeit the right to sovereign immunity. So fuck these assholes.

Correct. They can be prosecuted for breaking and entering, assault with a deadly weapon, involuntary restraint, kidnapping, etc.

Your move, Mass Gestapo, err, I mean SWAT.

Re:As a Massachusetts resident... (2)

robstout (2873439) | about 5 months ago | (#47332057)

I'm hoping for nce hefty civil lawsuits for pain and suffering.

Re:As a Massachusetts resident... (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 5 months ago | (#47332003)

They got this all wrong. It should be :"No! Taxation without representation."

Re:As a Massachusetts resident... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47332085)

Simple...right.

No sovereign immunity (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47331823)

Charge 'em with breaking and entering, assault and battery, and conspiracy to do those things. Guys, are you sure you're not with the government?

Re:No sovereign immunity (4, Insightful)

i.r.id10t (595143) | about 5 months ago | (#47331907)

Better, possession of un-taxed NFA items.

Especially if anything is select fire and made after '86 since the only non-mil and non-LEO that can possess such are FFL holders with the SOT to deal in NFA stuff....

Re:No sovereign immunity (1)

Berendho (3085971) | about 5 months ago | (#47331987)

Dude! Stop with all the acronyms please! (I'm European)

Re:No sovereign immunity (2)

operagost (62405) | about 5 months ago | (#47332035)

TSCR; version (too short, couldn't read)

A federal law passed in 1986 prohibits citizens from owning select-fire (auto or burst) firearms made after 1986. In addition, previous laws required that you acquire a special license ("stamp") to possess one. Exceptions are for law enforcement and licensed firearms dealers.

Re:No sovereign immunity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47331945)

Unless you are the police, expect to get your ass kicked in whilst trying to citizen's arrest them.

The courts have more than the required jurisdiction over these so-called SWAT teams, and I doubt they'd go easy on them either.

Re:No sovereign immunity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47331989)

They'd probably claim to have been deputized temporarily, or that they were authorized temporarily to act under color of law. [wikipedia.org]

Re:No sovereign immunity (4, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 5 months ago | (#47332009)

My thoughts precisely.

Since they're saying they aren't a government entity, then they do not have governmental authority to supersede the law, which makes them nothing more than brigands.

Also, as a private entity, that means they can be sued into bankruptcy. Which I, for one, would love to see.

Re:No sovereign immunity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47332031)

Charge 'em with breaking and entering, assault and battery, and conspiracy to do those things. Guys, are you sure you're not with the government?

Yeah, right. You're going to call who? The same police?

Re:No sovereign immunity (5, Informative)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about 5 months ago | (#47332117)

harge 'em with breaking and entering, assault and battery, and conspiracy to do those things. Guys, are you sure you're not with the government?

Massachusetts has a pretty strong Castle doctrine [mass.gov]

I'm not saying you should shoot Police officers, lawfully executing a warrant. I'm just pointing out that these guys don't seem to want to be considered Police officers.

How unexpected... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47331825)

Police abusing the law to escape accountability. If anyone didn't see that coming I have some beachfront property in Arizona to sell you.

Re:How unexpected... (5, Funny)

just_another_sean (919159) | about 5 months ago | (#47331921)

Wait, is that a global warming joke?

Re:How unexpected... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47331951)

Lots of sand in Arizona, sounds legit, I'll take it.

Re:How unexpected... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47332001)

I have some beachfront property in Arizona to sell you.

Lake Havasu? Or did you mean oceanfront instead of beachfront...because they are not the same thing.

Trying to have it both ways . . . . (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47331837)

They want the monetary and security advantages of being paid with taxpayer money without having to comply with the legal requirements of a taxpayer funded government organization. If they are allowed to get away with that, would anybody here like to guess here where it will go next?

Re:Trying to have it both ways . . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47332039)

They want the monetary and security advantages of being paid with taxpayer money without having to comply with the legal requirements of a taxpayer funded government organization. If they are allowed to get away with that, would anybody here like to guess here where it will go next?

Yeah, this is pretty easy: 1. Raids for profit. 2. Become a drug cartel, Mexican style. 3. Stage a coop.
At least that is what my history tells me.

Re:Trying to have it both ways . . . . (1)

FudRucker (866063) | about 5 months ago | (#47332047)

jackbooted fascist police state

I have the answer... (4, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | about 5 months ago | (#47331839)

FBI raid and arrest everyone in the SWAT team, put them in prison and charge them with Racketeering. Do it very public, invite the media and make these scumbags a lesson to cops across the country that they work FOR the citizens and must act as "public servants" and not a street gang.

Re:I have the answer... (5, Insightful)

DarkOx (621550) | about 5 months ago | (#47332007)

Except that at the federal level we have an FBI and DOJ that spend much of their time advising local law enforcement to if not outright lie, at least not to advertise their capabilities and methods. Then we have all kinds of federal money being appropriated at the federal level and handed to the Homeland Security to distribute to local law enforcement specifically to help them militarize.

In short I don't really really see what you suggest happening, not unless in a surprise upset Gary Johnson is elected president in 2016. Its much more likely the FBI will help intimidate and silence anyone who makes to much noise about this issue.

The obligatory Star Wars Reference... (1)

beheaderaswp (549877) | about 5 months ago | (#47331845)

Ahem.....

"I've got a bad feeling about this"....

Thank you...

Re:The obligatory Star Wars Reference... (1)

SomeoneFromBelgium (3420851) | about 5 months ago | (#47331863)

You're NOT a committee!

libertarians (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47331867)

Libertarians, Ayn Rand, privatization...that is the biggest bullshit story besides religions. You people are fucking morons. I realm hope you enjoy your new fascist regime. Objectivist philosophy is re-worked Nazi propaganda. Supermen my ass, more like cowards hiding behind weapons. Time to start bringing out the guillotine's again. Money worshippers never learn.

They shouldn't have immunity then (3, Interesting)

putaro (235078) | about 5 months ago | (#47331887)

Government officials and organizations have immunity from lawsuits for the most part, however private corporations are not. I'm sure there are any number of potential lawsuits that could be brought against them. I'd say it would be fun to watch them try to dance around the subject but it's not, really. It's sickening.

Re:They shouldn't have immunity then (2)

DarkOx (621550) | about 5 months ago | (#47332053)

*BINGO* the right loves to co-opt libertarian arguments about privatization to create these 'public-private' partnerships specifically because they create legal gray areas where tons of power, weapons, and money are moved outside accountability.

Nobody knows what laws apply to these groups, and it takes decades and dollars the public does not have to get it sorted out in the courts.

As libertarian when I hear public private partnership I know to be truly scared; to they point where a new public agency sounds like a better alternative.

Wait, what? (5, Interesting)

gstoddart (321705) | about 5 months ago | (#47331915)

Now they're private police forces and not subject to oversight?

Fine, then they're not law enforcement officers, and have far fewer room to operate legally, and any deaths and the like means they go to jail, right?

"You can't have it both ways," Jessie Rossman, a staff attorney for the Massachusetts ACLU, told me in a phone interview. "The same government authority that allows them to carry weapons, make arrests, and break down the doors of Massachusetts residents during dangerous raids also makes them a government agency that is subject to the open records law."

Exactly. If you're private corporations, you're not cops, you're vigilantes and operating outside of the law. If you're officers of the law, you're subject to oversight.

The argument that the LECs in Massachusetts are private corporations and therefore immune to the state open records law was made by Jack Collins, the general counsel for the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association.

And, once again, the 'police' have no interest in upholding the law, just covering their own asses.

If this doesn't get tossed out by a court or the law makers, this is a terrible precedent. They're asking for the right to do anything they want without oversight or responsibility.

And it sounds like they've got a long history of doing things which they'd prefer to keep hidden from oversight -- like accidentally killing people.

In the immortal words of NWA ... Fuck tha police.

Re:Wait, what? (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 5 months ago | (#47331981)

They aren't asking for it. They have taken and assumed it.

Romney was right (1)

andy1307 (656570) | about 5 months ago | (#47331919)

corporations are people, my friend....

people with guns and flashbang grenades [salon.com] .

Re:Romney was right (5, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about 5 months ago | (#47331965)

So, they're vigilantes then?

Sorry, but if it looks like a cop, and shoots people like a cop, and can arrest people like a cop, it needs oversight like a cop.

If people think police departments are terrible at investigating their own wrong doing now, wait until they're private corporations and can simply say "piss off".

If these clowns want to be private corporations, fire them all, and then tell them they're only legally allowed to be mall cops.

If they want to be cops, they're part of whatever level of government gives them the legal authority to operate, and subject to the applicable laws.

Any refusal to hand over the records should lead to dismissal, or criminal charges.

Plot of Continuum (3, Interesting)

GiMP (10923) | about 5 months ago | (#47331929)

This is basically the plot of Continuum [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continuum_(TV_series)], which is currently in its third season.

I know this is a tangent, but there is a pretty good intersection of interests here on Slashdot between science-fiction and rights of the people versus government. The show makes it interesting because the viewer is meant to basically hate both sides, plus it has time-travel.

*shrug*

as we look at things differently (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47331941)

fear generating words on a (virtual) page, violent (abuse victim) psychos on a rampage, slowing our advance to our new age of new clear options.. is anyone bleeding from the 'story'? see you there

OCP (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47331947)

OCP runs the cops.

Government without accountability is tyranny (2)

erroneus (253617) | about 5 months ago | (#47331955)

It's that simple. If they are not properly commissioned law enforcement officers then they are impersonating police and it is perfectly okay to answer deadly force with deadly force especially when they break into your home.

Not the Law Enforcement Agency (Corporation?)'s fa (1)

Jeff Deptola (3693575) | about 5 months ago | (#47331961)

The lack of compeitition... that problems on the government's side for allowing it. Actually, the majority of the fault is with the local government for allowing this. From what I've read, the police are legally right. If the state doesn't like it, they should change they're own laws, not fault a company for abiding by them. Now, that being said... they should definetly change the laws/situation... because police with no oversight is a very bad idea.

Re:Not the Law Enforcement Agency (Corporation?)'s (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 5 months ago | (#47332023)

If they are not law enforcement, they are a private company that is assaulting and kidnapping citizens.

If Aereo Is Cable TV, LECs Must Be Government (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47331991)

Surely since the Supreme Court just ruled that Aereo is cable TV for the purpose of regulation, these law enforcement councils are government for the purpose of open records laws.

Mass. gun laws (2)

operagost (62405) | about 5 months ago | (#47331997)

Massachusetts has pretty strict gun laws. If this is a private corporation, well, I don't think its members should be having fully automatic weapons with 30 round mags.

Mind you, I don't think ANY police should have weapons that the general public can't, but that's a separate issue.

Illiberals and Tyranny (-1, Troll)

mi (197448) | about 5 months ago | (#47332015)

Just a reminder, that Massachusetts is among the most Illiberals states of the Union these days. Dukakis, Kerry — failed Democratic presidential nominees — hail from here. Ted Kennedy kept his Senate seat despite being responsible for a girl's death due to his drunk-driving [wikipedia.org] (and leaving the scene of the accident). He abandoned his national ambitions after that, but remained popular in Massachusetts — and a shoe-in Senatorial candidate until his death.

Likewise, Barney Frank remained popular despite having patronized a (male) prostitute [wikipedia.org] (nominally — a crime in Massachusetts). It was so pathetic, the man remained a prostitute even after moving-in with Barney... Only the most Illiberal State would forgive such scandals to Illiberal politicians.

And if anybody needed a reminder, that Illiberalism leads to outright tyranny, well, TFA is it. Flamebait by furry tail.

subject to private lawsuits then (1)

stenvar (2789879) | about 5 months ago | (#47332017)

If they are "private corporations", then they are subject to discovery and private lawsuits, recovery of damages, and all that good stuff. That's assuming, of course, that private corporations can even do this stuff.

(Also remember that this blatant abuse of power comes from the heart of American liberalism, Massachusetts.)

Calling all hackers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47332025)

There are a few private organizations in Massachusetts that need some records liberated.

Ha (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47332029)

Good luck with that. Either they are performing raids under the direction of the government, in which case they are acting in their capacity as government police officers, or they are breaking and entering in their capacity as corporate employees. As a criminal, I would welcome this change as these raids will become giant lawsuits.

The SWATification Of America (4, Interesting)

OneSizeFitsNoone (3378187) | about 5 months ago | (#47332037)

Such a coincidence, just today I read this: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/... [zerohedge.com] "10 Facts About The SWATification Of America That Everyone Should Know" "The number of SWAT team raids in the United States every year is now more than 25 times higher than it was back in 1980."

They might be right (5, Informative)

Orgasmatron (8103) | about 5 months ago | (#47332055)

I work for local government (in a different state). A number of cities and counties around the state have banded together to manage custom software projects, etc, using a legal device known as a "Joint Powers Agreement".

The JPA creates a legal entity, much the same way that a contract creates a trust. This entity is essentially a delegation of authority from the various local government entities that constitute it, so it has some strange properties. For example, it has bank accounts, employs staff, rents an office, etc, but does not file tax returns.

It also, as far as our lawyers can tell, is exempt from all data practices laws. This isn't the end run you might seem to think. If a data request comes in to the entity, the staff there tells them to contact the relevant member entity. The requestor can then ask me (for example), and I am obligated to collect the data from my systems, and from the organization.

Basically, the legal reasoning is that the entity doesn't own anything, it merely possesses things on the behalf of the member entities. This is also why it doesn't file tax returns.

I don't know the legal situation in Massachusetts, but these are principles that derive from western jurisprudence in general, rather than from the laws of my state, so I suspect it is pretty similar. No idea where the 501(c)(3) thing comes in. I suspect that is more about being able to accept donations than anything else.

Personally, I think the citizens of that state should ask their legislature to pass a law to require such entities to respond to information requests, if that entity is involved in police operations. It is in the public interest to be able to request data from a consolidated entity of this nature, rather than having to deal with each individual member entity.

Impersonating police officers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47332059)

So these privateers are impersonating police officers. I can see long prison terms coming up.

Seems like a Libertarian utopia to me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47332095)

Oh, I come from a very Old Money family, and I assure you I can afford the best justice money can buy.

Simple, then they are rent-a-cops not LEO (2)

CppDeveloper (829095) | about 5 months ago | (#47332105)

Let them claim that but then you revoke all those badges and let the company give them "Security" shields. If they work for a private corporation they are private security NOT LEO.

Back in the old days, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47332125)

we called groups like these "the Mafia"

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