When law enforcement agencies across Maine were asked to turn over records of complaints and discipline, some departments provided a bundle of records, some provided basic information — and one in five did not respond at all.
That’s according to an audit conducted by the Maine Freedom of Information Coalition, a member of the National Freedom of Information Coalition. The Maine coalition last year sent Freedom of Access Act requests to 135 law enforcement agencies in the state. The law requires police agencies to provide records of people’s complaints and disciplinary letters.
“The problem, I think, is that having records is not perceived to be a core responsibility for a lot of agencies,” said Jim Campbell, president of the Maine coalition. “To their mind, dealing with the everyday things they have to deal with, it’s just one more dumb thing that they have to pay attention to. Except it isn’t a dumb thing.”
The results of the audit, including a searchable table of responses, were reported Jan. 7, 2022, in the Sun Journal and other newspapers in Maine.