Citing "Denver’s unjustified penchant for secrecy," the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado filed a new lawsuit today in Denver District Court demanding disclosure of security-related equipment purchases connected to the Democratic National Convention this summer.
The suit comes hot on the heels of The Colorado Independent’s Riot Toyz series that last week detailed the panoply of high-tech security vehicles, non-lethal crowd control devices and just plain weird personal restraint devices available for purchase by the Denver Police Department, which has an $18 million equipment budget in its total $50 million federal earmark for convention-related security expenses.
Denver’s Department of Safety refused separate earlier requests, via Colorado Open Records Requests by both The Colorado Independent and the ACLU of Colorado, to divulge the documents. Officials claimed that providing such details about the types of equipment being purchased "could potentially disclose tactical security information of the Denver Police Department which would be contrary to the public interest."
Colorado ACLU Legal Director Mark Silverstein argued in a statement released this morning that stonewalling based on sketchy, undefined security concerns cannot justify concealing how tax dollars are being spent, since state law clearly addresses how sensitive information can be redacted while allowing government to remain accountable to the public.
Responding to ACLU media inquiries that the Denver Police Department has purchased a "sonic ray gun" to subdue unruly crowds, Silverstein said:
“If Denver is buying such a device, or any other new-fangled so-called ‘less lethal’ weapons,” Silverstein continued, “the public is certainly entitled to know. And the public is entitled to ask whether Denver has adequately evaluated the manufacturers’ self-serving claims of safety, has established appropriate policies to regulate how and when officers may use such weapons, and has adequately trained its officers.”
Read our continuing coverage on the Democratic National Convention coming to Denver on Aug. 25-28.