UWPD releases partly-redacted reciepts, resource list showing chemical munitions purchases

UWPD Spokesperson says department made redactions in accordance with law for public safety purposes

· Mar 18, 2021 Tweet

John Spengler/The Badger Herald

UWPD released receipts of purchases from early June and a resource list of chemical munitions UWPD currently owns following a public records request from ASM Chair Matthew Mitnick.

Mitnick shared the records on Twitter, which included receipts from June 9 for smoke grenades and pepper spray, among other items which were redacted. In a letter with the records, UWPD Support Services Captain Mark Silbernagel said they redacted certain items and quantities because the items in question were tactical law enforcement equipment.

According to the letter, this equipment is used for UWPD’s “planned responses to civil disturbances” and releasing information on which items UWPD has and in what quantity could put students and officers at risk and jeopardize public safety and the safety of the officers.

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Additionally, UWPD released and redacted an incorrect purchase order from June 9, stating there was an error from a third party on the purchase receipt. In the letter, Silbernagel said if they released the incorrect purchase order without redaction and publicized without clarifying it isn’t accurate, it could erode public trust.

In a statement to The Badger Herald, UWPD Director of Communications Marc Lovicott said they noticed the error noticed preparing the records request.

“We immediately contacted the vendor who acknowledged their mistake and they sent us a corrected invoice,” Lovicott said. “Because the incorrect invoice/receipt was still a part of the records request from Mr. Mitnick, it had to be included in our response.”

In a statement to The Badger Herald, Mitnick said he requested records on UWPD’s less than lethal equipment, unarmed aircraft systems and drones, chemical munitions stockpile, ammunition firearm quantities, any field extrication response materials, equipment in a mutual aid response from the Field Extrication Team and purchase orders in chemical munitions from May 2020 to Sept. 2020.

On Twitter, Mitnick said the request took six months to fulfill UWPD said this request included over 20 pages of documents.

While UWPD said they did not redact all documents in this request, Mitnick said seeing redacted purchase requests concerned him.

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“UWPD cannot claim to be a department that practices transparency, racial equity and justice if it is not open and honest with its records,” Mitnick said. “UWPD is not a department that exists to protect students. It is a department that exists to incite violence. They deserve no place on this campus.”

Lovicott said the department made all redactions in accordance with Wisconsin State law and in consultation with the Office of Legal Affairs.

Lovicott said UWPD must balance sharing information with the public and withholding information which “may cause more harm than good,” if released.

“Simply put, if someone with criminal intent knew about all of the tools that we have and use, that puts us at a significant disadvantage when we’re responding to a critical incident,” Lovicott said. “For that reason, we don’t typically release details about our tactical equipment.”


This article was published Mar 18, 2021 at 10:03 pm and last updated Mar 18, 2021 at 10:03 pm


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