Worcester, MA PD Citizen Complaints

Alexander Cartwright and Jennifer Dirmeyer filed this request with the Worcester Police Department of Worcester, MA.
Status
Completed

Communications

From: Alexander Cartwright and Jennifer Dirmeyer

To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to the Massachusetts Public Records Law, M.G.L. c.66, §10, I hereby request the following records:

We are Economics Professors in the College of Business at Ferris State University, and are engaged in an empirical research project on police behavior and citizen complaints. This project requires us to request data from your department. If you have questions about this request or suggestions, we would be happy to discuss them with you.

We have located the annual reports for your department for 2007-2008. Could you please send copies of those reports for 2008-2017? If so, you may omit #1 and #2 of our request.

1. What is the total number of citizen complaints (allegations of misconduct) made against your department’s officers annually for the last 10 years? If your department logs complaints in a database, spreadsheet, or other log, a copy of those logs is fine instead.

Please include the type of complaint (i.e., use of force, abuse language, unwarranted search) and the result of complaint (i.e., sustained, exonerated).

2. What is the total number of complaints police officers made against their peer officers (sometimes called internal complaints) in department annually for the last 10 years? If your department logs complaints in a database, spreadsheet, or other log, a copy of those logs is fine instead.

Please include the type of complaint (i.e., use of force, abuse language, unwarranted search) and the result of complaint (i.e., sustained, exonerated).

3. How many officer-involved-shootings were there per year for the last 10 years in your department? Any documentation or reports that detail the annual number of officer-involved shootings in your department for the past 10 years would be sufficient.

Please include documentation regarding how many of these officer-involved shootings involved disciplinary action. (Please list officer firearm discharge directed at a person separately from a shooting involving an animal and separately from accidental firearm discharges).

Please include the number of officer-involved shootings resulting in discipline.

4. Which of the above data are published publicly? Please provide a link to any and all publicly available reports containing the data above.

Collecting this information is very important to our research, so we would like to emphasize, if you have questions about my request or suggestions, we would be happy to discuss them with you.

I also request that, if appropriate, fees be waived as we believe this request is in the public interest, as suggested but not stipulated by the recommendations of the Massachusetts Supervisor of Public Records. The requested documents will be made available to the general public free of charge as part of the public information service at MuckRock.com, processed by a representative of the news media/press and is made in the process of news gathering and not for commercial usage.

I expect the request to be filled in an accessible format, including for screen readers, which provide text-to-speech for persons unable to read print. Files that are not accessible to screen readers include, for example, .pdf image files as well as physical documents.

In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 10 business days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Alexander Cartwright and Jennifer Dirmeyer

From: Hanlon, Michael J.

To Whom it May Concern,

We have received your recent public records request for statistics relative to citizen complaints over the last 10 years at the Worcester Police Department.

Regarding request #1, there were a total of 724 individual citizen complaints filed with our Bureau of Professional Standards over the last 10 years. These complaints are all tracked by the Bureau of Professional Standards. The format in which these complaints are tracked includes the final disposition of each complaint. Under M.G. L. c. 4, § 7(26)(c), "personnel and medical files or information and any other materials or data relating to a specifically named individual, the disclosure of which may constitute an unwarranted invasion of privacy" are exempt from being released as a public record.

Under "A Guide to Massachusetts Public Records Law" Published by Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin and updated in 2017, certain portions of internal affairs files including officer reports and witness statements do not fall within this exemption. Other portions of the reports that contain personnel information useful in making employment decisions regarding an employee are sufficiently personal to be exempt under the above clause. According to the Guide, "Generally, personnel information that is useful in making employment decisions regarding an employee is sufficiently personal to be exempt.. Such information may include employment applications, employee work evaluations, disciplinary documentation...".

Based on the above, it is our position that the final disposition of an internal affairs complaint along with any discipline that may have resulted is not a public record as it falls within the above exemption.

In order to provide you with the printout list of the nature of each internal affairs complaint, we would be required to redact the portion of the record which contains the final disposition of the complaint. The requested information is contained within 44 pages of printed reports. I estimate that it will take approximately 7 minutes per page to review, redact, and copy the reports before sending them to you. At a rate of $25 per hour, I estimate that it will cost approximately $130 to provide you with the redacted copies of the computerized printouts.

Regarding request #2, there were approximately 126 total "internal complaints" in which the investigation was initiated as a Commander's Investigation or Officer Initiated complaint. The log that is in existence for these complaints does not include the type of complaint or the result of the complaint. In order to provide you with the nature of the complaints, a member of the Bureau of Professional Standards would be required to review each individual case and create a new record, which we are not required to do under the Public Records Law.

Regarding Request #3, there were a total of 26 Officer involved shootings over the last 10 years. Out of these 26 shootings, 17 were directed at an animal. As stated above, the final disposition of an internal affairs investigation and any possible discipline that may result is exempt from being disclosed as a public record under the privacy exemption of the Massachusetts Public Records Law.

Regarding Request #4, none of the above requested data is published

Respectfully,

Lieutenant Michael Hanlon

From: Alexander Cartwright and Jennifer Dirmeyer

Hello,

Thank you for this information and for the time you spent in preparing it.

I need to know the number of citizen complaints, per year, for the last 10 years (not the total number of complaints over ten years but the annual number for the 10 previous years). Could you please break the numbers down by year?

Also, regarding the internal complains, I would be satisfied with simply the total number of internal complaints, per year, for the previous 10 years. I do not need information on the nature of each complaint (of course, I do not need the officer's name). Would this modification reduce the fees involved? What if I only wanted to know if the complaint was sustained or not?

Respectfully,
Alex Cartwright

From: Hanlon, Michael J.

I will forward your request to our Bureau of Professional Standards to see if that is something they can do.

From: Hanlon, Michael J.

I have forwarded your request to our Bureau of Professional Standards. I am awaiting a response from them to determine if they are in possession of existing documents that contain the information you have requested. As soon as I receive a response from them I will let you know.

Respectfully,

Lieutenant Michael Hanlon

From: Hanlon, Michael J.

To whom it may concern,

Please see the below statistics you requested regarding Worcester Police Internal Affairs complaints over the last 10 years

Total complaint by year:

2007 – 94
2008 – 75
2009 – 87
2010 – 40
2011 – 115
2012 – 60
2013 – 77
2014 – 100
2015 – 83
2016 – 68
Total - 799

Yearly Internal Complaints:

2016: 10
2015: 13
2014: 21
2013: 12
2012: 10
2011: 11
2010: 3
2009: 8
2008: 3
2007: 6
Total : 97

As stated in my earlier email, the final outcome of internal affairs complaints are not considered a public record and we will therefore not be providing information on whether the above complaints were sustained or not sustained.

Respectfully,

Lieutenant Michael Hanlon

From: Alexander Cartwright and Jennifer Dirmeyer

Lt. Hanlon,

Thank you very much for providing this information. It is exactly what I was looking for. Are you still processing item 3 of my request?

Respectfully, Alex Cartwright

From: Hanlon, Michael J.

Please see the below statistics regarding your recent request for police related shooting incidents over the last 10 years in Worcester:

2017 - 3 incidents, all involving discharging of a firearm at an animal
2016 - 1 incident which involved discharging a firearm at an animal
2015 - 3 incidents involving discharging a firearm at an animal, and 3 incidents that involved discharging a firearm at an individual
2014 - 6 incidents directed at an animal, one incident directed at an individual
2013 - 1 incident directed at an animal
2012 - 2 incidents directed at an animal
2011- 2 incidents directed at an animal
2010 -2 incidents directed at an individual
2009 - no incidents
2008 - 2 incidents directed at an individual
2007 - no incidents

Respectfully,

Lieutenant Michael Hanlon

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