Wednesday, May 28, 2008

ACLU sues Denver again over police equipment purchases

The Post:
The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado today sued the city and county of Denver seeking disclosure of public records related to purchase of security-related equipment for the upcoming Democratic National Convention.

The city twice has twice denied requests filed by the ACLU under the Colorado Open Records Act seeking disclosure of the records, the lawsuit filed in Denver District Court states.

Mary Dulacki, the records coordinator for the city's department of safety, has denied release of the records based on the grounds that disclosure "was contrary to the public interest" and because "it could potentially disclose tactical security information."

Mark Silverstein, the legal director for the ACLU of Colorado, said in a prepared statement that the city was being overly restrictive.

He argued that he did not believe the public records requested would contain any "tactical security information." Even if it did, he said, the Colorado legislature has passed amendments to the open records laws that would allow disclosure of how the money is being spent while allowing for deletion of more sensitive information. . . .

He said the lack of information has prompted rumors, such as whether the city had acquired a "sonic ray gun" for crowd control.

"If Denver is buying such a device, or any other new-fangled so-called 'less lethal weapons, the public is certainly entitled to know," Silverstein said in a statement. "And the public is entitled to ask whether Denver has adequately evaluated the manufacturers' self-serving claims of safety, has established appropriate policies to regulate how and when officer may use such weapons, and has adequately trained officers."

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