Overdue: Suffolk County suicide prevention guidelines

There are no fines (or any punishment at all) for a Massachusetts agency that doesn’t respond to a public records request

Written by Brandon Wieber

Accused “Craigslist Killer” Philip Markoff was the highest profile detainee at the Suffolk County Jail in years. His suicide, which occurred before his trial in 2010, was an embarrassing situation for the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department that called their procedures into question.

MuckRock co-founder Michael Morisy requested the Sheriff’s Department guidelines on suicide prevention. For two years, the Sheriff’s Department has failed to provide them.



There are no fines (or any punishment at all) for a Massachusetts agency that doesn’t respond to a Freedom of Information request. MuckRock’s responsiveness tracking shows some agencies have stalled requests for years, and the Sheriff’s Department is among the worst offenders.

Morisy’s suicide prevention guidelines request dates back to Aug. 19, 2010. It took 11 days to even acknowledge the request had been received. Nothing was heard for more than a year.

 Morisy followed up on the request in February 2012. He received no response, and followed up again two weeks later. He finally received a response stating that his follow-up has been forwarded to another department, and that department would be contacting him soon. 

They didn’t contact him. Four more follow-ups received nothing in response.

What can the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department be working on? And why say he would be contacted soon and then continue to ignore him?

With each passing day, the Suffolk Sheriff’s Department, a law enforcement agency, isn’t just ignoring a public records request. It’s ignoring the law. 


A few days after this article was published, the SCSD released their policy. It’s embedded below.