Judge orders Tacoma to pay $297,000 for records violations

Judge orders Tacoma to pay $297,000 for records violations

TACOMA, Wash. — A Pierce County judge has ordered the city of Tacoma to pay nearly $300,000 for failing to turn over documents in response to a public records request.

The state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union sued in 2016 on behalf of two church leaders and a former city council candidate who sought records related to the police department's use of "StingRays," cell site simulators that investigators can use to locate phones.

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The plaintiffs said they were concerned about the effect of police surveillance in the community.

Superior Court Judge Helen Whitener said the department unreasonably withheld the documents, sometimes without even citing an exception to the state Public Records Act. She ordered the city to pay about $182,000 in fines, $110,000 in legal fees and $5,000 in other costs.

Tacoma spokeswoman Maria Lee said Thursday the city is reviewing the decision and had no immediate comment.

The city has previously been fined for withholding StingRay records from other requesters.

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