An ‘Outrageous’ Public Records Response — Even for the Mass. State Police

Have a public records story you would like to share? Email with your experience trying to obtain information through a state public records law.

By Colman M. Herman

It is a fact of life that the Massachusetts State Police (MSP) often fail to respond to public records requests. And when they do, appeals often ensue, the overwhelming majority of which they lose. No surprise there.

But I recently encountered something that knocked my argyle socks off.

I made a public records request of MSP regarding the security detail the agency provides to Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito.

Then, according to records I obtained, MSP lawyer Alycia DeAngelis wrote the following to Kevin Scalpen, the commander of the MSP executive protection unit.

“Hey Captain—I have a question about Lt. Gov. Polito’s security detail. This is about the request to take Polito’s house off the Shrewsbury [Massachusetts] assessor’s website. I have a public records request from a man named Colman Herman. . . . If we have something tangible, I will be denying the request.”

Say what? Without ever actually seeing any records, DeAngelis made up her legal mind to deny my request?

After weeks of trying to get MSP to explain how in the world one of their lawyers could say something so outrageous, spokesman David Procopio finally responded — a response that was vetted by the governor’s office.

“Had any responsive records existed, the department is confident this attorney’s initial review and subsequent levels of supervisory review would have ensured that the public records law would have been correctly applied,” Procopio wrote.

If you believe that, I got a bridge . . . .

Colman M. Herman is a freelance writer and reporter living in Boston.

NEFAC was formed in 2006 to advance and protect the Five Freedoms of the First Amendment, including the principle of the public’s right to know. We’re a broad-based organization of people who believe in the power of an informed democratic society. Our members include lawyers, journalists, historians, academics and private citizens.

Our coalition is funded through contributions made by those who value the First Amendment and who strive to keep government accountable. Please make a donation here.

Major Supporters of NEFAC include the Hearst Connecticut Media Group, the Barr Foundation, The Boston Globe, Boston University and WBUR-Boston.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.
* required

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>