Secret Police Files - 7News Boston WHDH-TV

Secret Police Files

Now video you'll see on just one station--and it may include pictures of you! Tonight in her exclusive report, Hank reveals how law enforcement officials are secretly videotaping events--and creating secret "intelligence files" about innocent people! And now two major civil rights groups are calling for the practice to stop! How could it happen? Hank investigates.

Are you in this video? If you were at the peace march at the Park Street T last October you might be. But 7news didn't shoot this--it's from Boston police department's secret surveillance files! Files marked "homeland security" and "extremist".

Susan Barney of Arlington--a child care provider--was shocked to find her peaceful appearances in public places were being watched--and documented.

Susan Barney, Arlington Resident:

I am in no way a terrorist. I am no way a criminal.

Look at these videos: this one on Boston Common, this one in the financial district--and more--taped by Boston police since 2011. Why is law enforcement recording stuff like this? They say they're collecting information for a little-known organization called BRIC--the Boston Regional Intelligence Center. It's funded by homeland security, and its mission? Use these local police departments to watch out for terrorist threats and share information. Problem is: they're also creating files about innocent people.

Urzsula Maszny-Latos, National Lawyers Guild:

"They are really monitoring everything that they consider suspicious, even those actions are suspicious in anyway.

Hank:

"Do you think people know they're in police video files?"

Urzsula Maszny-Latos, National Lawyers Guild:

"They don't!"

All these tapes--and this huge stack of reports--stayed secret until this recent lawsuit filed by the ACLU and the Mass Lawyers guild. They now say it proves police are not only targeting real terrorists, they're tracking peaceful activists, and what's more, the police are keeping the information on file!

Urzsula Maszny-Latos National Lawyers Guild:

"If an officer videotapes an event and nothing happens after ninety days, the tape should be destroyed."

Hank:

"Is that what's happening now?"

Urzsula Maszny-Latos, National Lawyers Guild:

"It's not."

Look--some of these surveillance "reports" are four and five years old! Why were the police were keeping them? In this letter, the police explain it was a "software error" and most of the files "should have been purged."

Carol Rose, ACLU:

"It's wrong in a democracy for the government to spy on its own citizens and label them as criminals."

The ACLU and the Guild are now calling for this surveillance to stop. Boston Police tell us BRIC does not maintain surveillance on peaceful protest groups, and they do not monitor events without specific information on suspected criminal activity.

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