On Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts released new documents about the use by some local police forces of SWAT teams, armored vehicles and military-style assault weapons.
For a while now, the ACLU of Massachusetts has been concerned about the militarization of local police departments, whether it's necessary, and what it costs. So they asked a regional law enforcement group, called the Northeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council (NEMLEC), to release information about what they do and what it costs.
NEMLEC is an association of 61 police and sheriff departments in northeastern Massachusetts that share SWAT Teams, automatic weapons and combat gear to carry out special law enforcement operations. And when they refused to release the information, the ACLU went to court and eventually settled.
John Fisher, Carlisle Chief of Police and president of the Northeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council's executive board. NEMLEC tweets @NEMLEC.
"Are SWAT teams, which are trained to deal with hostage, barricade and active shooter scenarios, being used for that purpose? Are these LEC SWAT teams mostly deployed to respond to hostage cases and terrorist attacks? Or do this Massachusetts SWAT team’s internal records point to mission creep driven by the failed, costly war on drugs?"
- "The ACLU says the documents suggest the state’s SWAT units are increasingly being used for mostly minor drug-related arrests. The council says the documents don’t give the full picture."
- "Across the country, the ACLU found that SWAT teams executed search warrants in 80 percent of their raids. About 42 percent of NEMLEC’s 79 reports were for warrants; the majority of those were drug related."
This segment aired on July 7, 2015.