Police illegally kept personal data, whistleblower suit says
BANGOR, MAINE (AP) — A division of the Maine State Police illegally gathered and stored intelligence on employees at a camp for Israeli and Arab teens, on power line protesters, on gun buyers and on others, a trooper claims in a federal lawsuit.
George Loder sued the Maine Intelligence Analysis Center last week in U.S. District Court, alleging that the police agency violated the Whistleblower Protection Act and illegally retaliated against him when he took his information to superiors, the Bangor Daily News reported.
The analysis center’s mission is to share information with other law enforcement agencies. Loder, who was working near his home in Portland with the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force at the time, says in his lawsuit that he went to his supervisors with the concerns in November 2017.
He was reassigned to a desk job a two-hour drive from home and requested a transfer to another unit but, in a policy violation, was denied in a policy violation, he alleges in the lawsuit. He says he then went on medical leave and returned as a trooper.
The lawsuit does not mention which agencies, other than the State Police, might have received any of the data, or when the center began collecting it.
A spokesperson for the Maine Department of Public Safety deferred comment to the state attorney general’s office, where a spokesperson disputed the allegations and told the newspaper that the office would respond in court “accordingly.”
Loder, 50, seeks unspecified damages and wants the center to end what he says is the illegal sharing of information. He did not return a request for comment from the Daily News. His attorney, Cynthia Dill, declined to comment.
His lawsuit names the analysis center; the head of the State Police, which oversees it; and the center’s two supervisors.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Maine wants the Department of Public Safety to internally investigate.
Loder claims the analysis center collected information on staff at Seeds of Peace, an international summer camp in Otisfield created in 1993 for Israeli and Arab teenagers than now also includes youths living in the U.S. Collection of that data ended in May 2018, Loder says.
Among other allegations in the lawsuit, as reported by the Bangor Daily News:
— That the center illegally gathered from social media information on protesters of Central Maine Power Co.’s proposed transmission line from Quebec to Lewiston.
— That the center illegally stored, for more than the 21 days allowed by state law, information from license plate scans of vehicles that traveled often to New York City or to Massachusetts towns believed to be sources of street drugs sold in Maine.
— That the center illegally stored information from a State Police database on applications to purchase firearms — material that should be destroyed after a sale goes through.