Two experts say the Boston Police Department is violating Massachusetts public record law by refusing to release the names of five officers who were caught driving drunk, reports the Boston Globe. Mayor Martin Walsh said he has no plans to order police to release the information. Officials declined to release the names in response to requests from the Globe. Using public records and interviews, the newspaper counted at least 30 officers in Massachusetts since 2012 who have been caught driving drunk, including five from Boston. In several cases, police departments attempted to withhold records even when the officers had been in serious crashes. The Globe also found that at least 10 officers were kept on the police payroll after their driving privileges were suspended and they could not perform their normal duties.
“There is no exception in the public records laws for information embarrassing to the police,” said Jeffrey Pyle, an attorney who specializes in the First Amendment, public records, and media law. Another First Amendment and public records attorney, Peter Caruso Sr, added, “These are public records as clear as the nose on your face.” The attorneys said the decision to withhold the names was particularly hard to justify since Boston police have published the names of dozens of civilians who were arrested for drunken driving on its website. The withholding of names makes it difficult for the press and public to determine whether the officers had been accused of drunken driving or other misconduct before. “Without names, these records pose more questions than answers,” Caruso said. Boston Police Lt. Michael McCarthy said the city believed names of the officers were protected under a law set up to restrict access to the state's centralized database of criminal records, called CORI for Criminal Offender Record Information.