Another Missouri Drug Task Force Violates Sunshine Law
By Aaron Malin
Show-Me Cannabis staff were forcibly removed from the Audrain County Sheriff’s office the afternoon of January 29th. Director of research Aaron Malin, along with legal counsel David Roland, came to the Sheriff’s office to exercise their legal right observe a public meeting of the oversight board of the East Central Drug Task Force. After waiting in the office for several minutes to be admitted to the meeting, Lieutenant Matthew Oller physically barred Malin and Roland from entering the meeting and ordered them to leave the premises, warning of consequences if the two did not obey his commands.
In doing so, the East Central Drug Task Force blatantly violated RSMo 610.020. Missouri’s Sunshine Law requires that meetings of public governmental bodies, such as a board of directors for a drug task force, to be open to the public not only to observe, but to record the proceedings.
Today’s incident is just the latest in a series of illegal activities by Missouri’s consistently unscrupulous drug task forces. “Once again, a drug task force is acting as though they are above the law. We will ensure they learn that’s not the case,” Malin said. “These rogue task forces have almost no accountability to begin with. When the public is denied access to the meetings designed to provide a modicum of oversight, it raises serious questions about what they are hiding.”
In recent weeks, the Missouri Department of Public Safety requested millions of dollars in funding for drug task forces. Show-Me Cannabis is encouraging Missourians to contact their state legislators in Jefferson City to request Missouri’s drug task forces be defunded and dismantled. Show-Me Cannabis is also preparing to publicly release a comprehensive report next week on Missouri’s drug task force activity. The report is titled, “Drug Task Forces in Missouri: Secret, Dangerous, and Unaccountable; A Thorough Exploration of Patterns of Gross Misconduct.”