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Tuesday, June 11, 2024 | Back issues
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ACLU Seeks Info on Police’s Military Tactics

PHOENIX (CN) - The ACLU says it has filed public records requests in 23 states seeking information on police departments' used of military technology and tactics.

The ACLU of Arizona seeks information from 10 police departments and sheriff's offices in the state, including the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, the Pinal County Sheriff's Office, and the Phoenix Police Department.

"Equipping state and local law enforcement with military weapons and vehicles, military tactical training, and actual military assistance to conduct traditional law enforcement erodes civil liberties and encourages increasingly aggressive policing, particularly in poor neighborhoods and communities of color," Kara Dansky, senior counsel for ACLU's Center for Justice, said in a statement. "We've seen examples of this in several localities, but we don't know the dimensions of the problem."

The FOIA requests seek information on the frequency of SWAT team deployments, the weapons used by SWAT teams, and the number of citizens injured during deployments.

The ACLU also seeks information on police and sheriff's departments use of tracking devices, drones, electric shock handcuffs, and military weapons, and any agreements between local law enforcement agencies and the National Guard's counter-drug program.

The ACLU cites "10 chilling stories " as evidence of "overly aggressive policing" by local police, including the May 5, 2011 killing of an Iraq war veteran by the Pima Regional SWAT Team in Tucson.

Jose Guerena, 26, was shot 60 times during a drug raid when the SWAT team tried to serve a search warrant. Guerena's wife and son were also in the home, but were uninjured.

Guerena's widow, Vanessa, sued the SWAT team and Pima County in November 2011.

The ACLU also cited Scottsdale Inventions' application for a patent for "shock-cuffs" - handcuffs that police can activate to shock detainees.

The ACLU of Arizona also filed public records requests with the Arizona National Guard, Pima County Sheriff's Office, Arizona Department of Public Safety, Mesa Police Department, Tucson Police Department, Payson Police Department and Yuma Police Department.

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