The different tricks and tactics used by law enforcement agencies to bypass data access laws are always amusing to read about. But the recent trick used by Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams in Massachusetts deserves special recognition:
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.
My favorite part about government transparency laws getting passed isn’t the laws got passed but the scams developed by the government to ignore them. This particular scam is especially clever. By being private organizations these SWAT teams are immune from any and all government transparency laws.
Fans of history will likely have a long list of scams developed by individuals, corporations, and non-governmental organized crime syndicates. But time and time again the state manages to outdo all of those other petty scam artists. I guess having a monopoly on both writing and enforcing laws helps.