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Audit finds D.C. police hampered probe

Friday - 9/28/2012, 12:23pm  ET

WASHINGTON - A District of Columbia auditor is faulting the police department's methods for investigating groups that exercise free speech rights.

The audit also says the department impeded a probe into its investigative tactics by refusing to turn over un-redacted emails from undercover officers and other records. That makes it hard to know how police monitored, investigated and possibly infiltrated organizations planning demonstrations.

The audit released Friday says the department didn't properly authorize 16 of 20 First Amendment investigations and didn't obtain written approval for the use of undercover officers in 17 investigations.

Mass arrests of protesters in 2000 and 2002 led to multi-million court settlements and prompted a new law that establishes police procedures for First Amendment investigations. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier issued a sharply critical response to the findings.

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