BOSTON (AP) — The Massachusetts attorney general has sued the Boston Police Department over its refusal to comply with public records requests regarding fired police Commissioner Dennis White.
The complaint filed Thursday asks the state Superior Court to confirm that the documents are public records and that police are obligated to release them.
“Our state’s public records law is in place to ensure an open, accessible, and accountable government,” Jillian Fennimore, a spokesperson for Attorney General Maura Healey, said in a statement. “That’s especially important when it comes to promoting public confidence in law enforcement. Following repeated failures by the Boston Police Department to produce these records, we are seeking an order from the court that they must be turned over.”
Boston police said they could not comment on pending litigation.
White was appointed commissioner in February, but placed on leave just days later when decades-old domestic violence allegations surfaced. He was fired in June despite denying the allegations and mounting a legal fight to keep his job.
The attorney general's complaint stems from a media request made in March for White's internal affairs records from the 1990s.
When WBTS-TV, also known as NBC10 Boston, did not get a response for two weeks, the station went to the supervisor of Public Records, who twice ordered the department to respond to the request, according to the attorney general’s complaint.
When the department did not respond to either order, the supervisor referred the matter to the attorney general. Police turned over some records, but not all of them.
White was appointed by former Mayor Marty Walsh — now U.S. labor secretary — and fired by acting Mayor Kim Janey.
Janey in a statement thanked Healey, saying the public's right to know must be balanced with the right to privacy of survivors of domestic violence.
“I respect the judgment of the Office of the Attorney General, and I’ve instructed the city’s Law Department and our Director of Public Records to determine what can be released in this circumstance,” she said.