NEMLEC: Lawless Law Enforcement

“Law Enforcement Councils” exist in many states to coordinate police activities across a region. Nearby, we have the North Eastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council (NEMLEC) that includes police departments in 58 communities in Massachusetts. NEMLEC has military-style equipment and fields a SWAT team. Ironically, it is organized as a nonprofit corporation, and claims that as such it need not disclose information about its budget or activities in compliance with open records laws. This article in the Bay State Examiner describes a lawsuit brought by the ACLU last June to obtain records of SWAT team activities, which NEMLEC refuses to supply: “NEMLEC can’t have it both ways,” said ACLU of Massachusetts staff attorney Jessie Rossman. “Either it is a public entity subject to public records laws, or what it is doing is illegal.” The article links to pages at NEMLEC’s Web site, which now is unavailable for unknown reasons. However, you can read a description from the Wilmington MA PD that summarizes NEMLEC.

I have no information about the ACLU’s suit’s current status, so if anyone has that information, please respond.This lack of transparency is extremely disturbing. I want to know how a regional law enforcement unit which is paid for by taxpayers can call itself a corporation in order to act in secret, like the Mafia or the CIA. I am therefore prompting Will to move the legislature to enact a law that mandates that LECs like NEMLEC comply with open records laws and comport themselves as public agencies instead of hiding their activities behind legal fictions.

5 replies on “NEMLEC: Lawless Law Enforcement”

  1. I find it hard to believe that the majority of commuters drive to work in Boston and Cambridge. No numbers were given. Where do they park their cars? More drivers would use public transportation if it were reliable and the cost to drive was increased via some kind of tax. What we need to hear from our elected leaders is a PLAN to address the deficiencies, not reasons why it is hopeless. Give us some hope: Year 1, we will do X; Year 2, we will address Y; Year 2, we will fix Z, up to year 20, if needed. Right now, it seems there is just talk about new T cars (that are late or have problems), limited resources, the old D’Allesandro report from 2009. People can understand slow progress, but they have trouble with no progress.

    1. Hi Geoff,

      I checked in on this and my understanding is that the law suit will have an important hearing in June. It’s possible that some agreement on the appropriate scope of disclosure obligations might be reached before then, but it sounds like the June hearing will lead to a resolution.


      1. Thanks for the information, Will. BTW, is now available but “under construction”. I hope the resolution will make public NEMLEC’s budget, sources of funding, and capabilities, not just statistics on their activities in the field, and force them to describe these things on their web site.

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