American Civil Liberties Union v. LaCabe

Criminal Justice | Government Transparency
Case No. 2008-CV-4517, United States District Court, District of Colorado
ACLU Case No. 2008-10


This lawsuit, filed under Colorado’s open records laws, seeks an order that Denver disclose records related to budgeting for and purchase of police equipment such as “less lethal” weapons dating back to January 2007, when Denver was selected as the host city for the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

The lawsuit notes that the federal government has allocated $50 million to reimburse Denver for security-related expenses in connection with the convention, and that Denver officials have said that $18 million of that money is budgeted for purchases of equipment.

In responding to the ACLU’s request for records, the Records Coordinator for the Department of Safety refused to disclose almost all of the requested information. The stated grounds were that disclosure “could potentially disclose tactical security information of the Denver Police Department which would be contrary to the public interest.”

The lawsuit contends that the Colorado legislature addressed this issue in 2005. At that time, it added a provision to the open records laws stating that documents related to the budgeting and expenditure of public funds on security-related matters must be disclosed. The only exception allows deleting or redacting only those portions of the records that contain “specialized details of security arrangements.”

"Denver should provide more details of security spending" Rocky Mountain News Editorial, July 25, 2008


John Culver
Mark Silverstein , ACLU of Colorado Legal Director
Taylor Pendergrass , ACLU of Colorado Staff Attorney

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