UMass Police Officers Sue UniversityAMHERST, Mass (WGGB) — 18 UMass police officers have filed suit against the university, claiming conversations in their own police station were bugged.
It all dates back to 2011, when the school installed a new surveillance system in their brand new East Pleasant Street police station.
There were signs in the booking room to alert police officers and prisoners that they were being recorded both with audio and video.
The lawsuit alleges, though, that the same system was installed throughout the entire building, from conference rooms to rest rooms without officers being informed.
One officer filed suit in February 2012, and a court injunction ordered the system be taken down.
UMass Police did just that, now 17 other officers have joined the same suit, claiming their rights were violated.
Attorney Thomas Kenefick says state wire tapping laws were violated in the very building where laws
are supposed to be upheld.
“They found that their fundamental civil rights were being abridged, in terms of unreasonable search and seizure. In terms of reasonable expectation of privacy,” Kenefick said. “They felt afronted. They felt betrayed. We’re in the process of determining who authorized the purchase, who knew about it.”
The discovery period in the legal process will determine what damage the system caused to officers. They say that personal conversations, about both work and their private lives, were heard. They also say job action was taken against at least one officer.
The suit goes on to state that anyone with access to the computer system could hear the conversations, that it had the ability to record and save conversations, and that supervisors could log in to hear conversations from remote locations.
UMass officials are aware of the developments in the case. They add that as soon as the university became aware that audio was accidentally turned on in the system, it was shut off.