Which Mass. police departments opened up their inventory lists?

The same records request has generated wildly different responses

Written by George LeVines
Edited by Tom Nash

More than a month after the Massachusetts supervisor of public records upheld Somerville’s decision to deny access to a firearms inventory, responses from the 68 other police departments to the same request are yielding disparate results.

While each department received the same request, the responses ran the gamut from denying the records outright to demanding exorbitant fees. Some simply responded with inventories.

Four departments asked for payment for the records, including the Plymouth Police Department department who asked for $1,600. Eighteen rejected the request, citing a variety of security exemptions. Four departments sent responses that at least partially fulfilled the request. One department reported no responsive documents and one department has been taken over by the state.

Since the last update the following agencies have rejected the request:

In the most recent rejections records custodians cited Exemptions (b) records which are “related solely to internal personnel rules and practices” the release of which would interfere with the entity’s functioning, (n) records which could jeopardize public safety if released, (f) records which could interfere with an ongoing investigation and (j) which relates to firearm licensure disclosure.

A number of agencies also cited a provision in Massachusetts law that states government entities are not compelled to create a record in the event that one does not already exist. Begging the question: how are police organizations who claim to not have an inventory organizing their affairs?

An appeal to the Lawrence Police Department rejection is still pending as is a detailed explanation of the $1,600 charge from the Plymouth Police Department.

On the open side, North Andover Police, Norwood Police, Peabody Police and the Dukes County Sheriff’s Office (Nantuckett) have all fulfilled the request at least in part.

Some departments provided an emailed response listing standard issue firearms and other smatterings of equipment, while others handed over spreadsheets with more complete inventories and vehicle fleet lists.

More detailed explanations of public records exemptions can be found in the Guide to Massachusetts Public Records Law. Follow the requests as they roll in here.


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