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Lawsuit claims MUSTANG drug task force violated sunshine law

A Cole County judge is now deliberating after hearing arguments in a case against the MUSTANG Drug Task Force.

The lawsuit claims that task force leadership did not comply with Missouri’s sunshine law after receiving requests from Aaron Malin, a former researcher for Show Me Cannibas.

Malin said he had multiple exchanges with Dennis Crane, then the Callaway County Sheriff and chair of the task force’s executive board.

The sunshine law violation claim centers around the information that was redacted in documents Malin received in response to his requests, as well as certain documents that were not provided at all.

For example, Malin said he requested the minutes for all the executive board meetings for the past two years but received quarterly reports instead.

From the Cole County Sheriff’s Department, Malin said he requested financial records outlining the task force’s funding structure.

When Malin was able to examine the documents, information including the number of agencies that are devoting resources to the task force and the funding sources for various assets were redacted.

While Malin claims that information is public and should not have been redacted, lawyers for the task force argued Friday that it could give the public clues to the task force’s human resources.

Columbia Police chief Ken Burton, Boone County Sheriff Dwayne Carey, former Cole County Sheriff Greg White and other law enforcement leaders associated with the MUSTANG drug task force are named defendants in the lawsuit.

Judge Patricia Joyce will have the final say as to whether or not any violation was committed.

More information about the state’s sunshine law can be found on the Missouri Attorney General website.

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