NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

July 16, 2014

NEMLEC needs to rebrand itself

To the editor:

The mission statement of the North East Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council states: “(NEMLEC) is a non-profit corporation, and a law enforcement council, composed of a consortium of 58 police and sheriff departments in Middlesex and Essex Counties.”

However, in its operations section a statement reveals its use of public resources: “NEMLEC functions in many respects as a specialized, regional policing operation. Each executive officer commits resources from his/her law enforcement agency to assist other members in an effort to increase and improve their individual and collective capabilities, and to provide effective policing services.”

Therein is the dilemma this organization is facing, which provides several crime-fighting resources to its members including a regional SWAT team.

The ACLU has sued the council for its refusal to release public records regarding its financing and operations. The ACLU is claiming that a publicly funded and public resource sharing entity should be subjected to public records law and closer scrutiny. In particular, the ACLU is concerned about civil rights violations of an agency that is not transparent.

Outgoing police Chief Paul Tucker from Salem, who has served as vice president of the organization, has defended the organization and rightly so: as a vital resource to protect the public.

Thankfully, he is also in favor of rebranding the organization with a revision of an outdated mission statement and leading an effort with his board to possibly reach an agreement with the ACLU. Chief Tucker understands the balance between the public’s right to know and the need for a margin of non-disclosure to protect officers and keep trade secrets from criminals.

In the end, the public’s right to know is the trump card and there should be no tolerance for a secret police force of any kind in this nation.

Joe D’Amore

Groveland

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