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Panel: People listed in 'spy files' should be allowed to review reports

By The Associated Press

07.06.02

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DENVER — A panel of three former judges is recommending that people included in the Denver Police Department's "spy files" should have 60 days to see what those reports say about them, The Denver Post reported this week.

Police have confirmed that the department's intelligence bureau has more than 3,400 surveillance files, including some on protesters who were not known to have been involved in illegal activity.

The Denver Post reported July 2 that it had obtained a copy of a June 28 report listing recommendations on how to deal with the files.

Andrew Hudson, spokesman for Mayor Wellington Webb, said the recommendations listed by the newspaper were consistent with what the panel was recommending. The mayor hadn't seen the final report, including its conclusions, and would have no comment until they were reviewed, Hudson said.

The three-member panel, which included two former district judges and a former state Supreme Court justice, was to present its recommendations to Webb on July 3.

In the report, the panel says that in order to protect the privacy and associational rights of the individuals named, the stored files on individuals and groups should not be released to the general public. Individuals on the surveillance list should be allowed to see their files with other names removed.

After 60 days, the files on 3,277 individuals and 208 groups should be destroyed, the panel decided.

"The proposal to destroy the files is unacceptable," said Mark Silverstein of the American Civil Liberties Union, which has sued the city over the files. "They need to be preserved not only because there's a pending lawsuit, but because they are the documentation of a major case of police misconduct and ineptitude. The public has a right to a full accounting of what's in there."

In its report, the panel wrote, "We see no reason to punish anyone in the Police Department for retaining improper information in the intelligence bureau's criminal intelligence computer data base."

No evidence was found that information was kept to inhibit freedom of speech, the panel said.

Steve Nash of Denver, a member of CopWatch who said he believes he is in individual and group files, said the panelists were appointed to cover up the extent of the files.

CopWatch members, who cruise the streets looking for examples of police abuse, are part of the ACLU suit.

According to the panel, the criminal intelligence bureau had maintained a file with 90,000 to 100,000 contacts for criminal intelligence and routine security work since 1954.

Update

Denver mayor won't allow destruction of secret police files
Wellington Webb disregards one panel recommendation but agrees that individuals, organizations should be allowed to see records.  07.23.02

Previous

ACLU: Denver Police illegally monitor peaceful protest groups
Group asks mayor to stop practice of keeping files on individuals, organizations — including Quaker group and Amnesty International.  03.13.02

Related

Lawmakers kill bill banning police surveillance of peaceful protesters
Colorado House panel rejects measure amid complaints it would hinder police activity.  04.27.02

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