- Associated Press - Thursday, October 8, 2015

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Three undercover Minneapolis police officers whose names were made public after prostitution busts at massage parlors are suing the city, county and state.

The officers, identified as John Does in the lawsuit, claim that data on undercover officers is private and the defendants violated the Minnesota Data Practices Act. The lawsuit says the city failed to protect their identities as required by law, and the disclosure compromised the officers’ ability to conduct undercover operations.

“The disclosures of private data identifying Plaintiffs was not inadvertent or accidental, but a willful act,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit, filed last week, makes no mention of the massage parlor cases. But Lt. Bob Kroll, head of the police union, and the officers’ attorney, Joseph Kelly, confirmed the connection to The Associated Press on Thursday.

City Attorney Susan Segal said the city received the lawsuit Thursday and was still reviewing it. In an emailed statement, she said the city takes its obligations under the Minnesota Data Practices Act “very seriously.”



The prostitution busts got media attention when they were dismissed this summer by Hennepin County judges and the city attorney’s office, after the judges said the officers went too far when they had sexual contact with the female suspects.

The police department has since suspended its use of undercover details in massage parlors.

The lawsuit says that since the officers’ names were disclosed, the officers and their families have received negative comments and have suffered “stress, anxiety, and emotional damage.” The officers have also been harassed at work and their reputations have been damaged, the lawsuit claims.

The lawsuit also claims that one of the officers has been shamed because of the nature of his undercover work and “has been excluded from the ability to practice his religion within his community.”

The lawsuit asks that each officer be awarded $15,000 for each violation of the state Data Practices Act. The number of violations would be determined at trial, said Kelly, the officers’ attorney.

“Obviously there was a failure by a number of different organizations to properly protect the identities of the undercover law enforcement officers,” he said. “All we’re wanting is that their identities continue to be protected, and hopefully this will prevent these agencies from continuing these types of violations.”

Kroll said the officers’ names should have been redacted through the entire process. He said undercover investigations are often ugly and officers put themselves in dangerous situations.

“They didn’t do anything wrong,” he said, adding that he wishes the city attorney would have appealed the judges’ decision to dismiss the cases.

“The city should have known better,” Kroll said. “It’s a clear violation of law.”

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