SECTION 1. Chapter 66 of the General Laws, as so appearing in the 2018 Official Edition, is hereby amended by adding the following new section:
(1)Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, personnel records of police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians used to evaluate performance toward continued employment or promotion, under the control of any police agency, department, district, or city or town, or political subdivision thereof, shall be considered confidential and not subject to inspection or review without the express consent of such police officer, firefighter, or emergency medical technician, except as may be mandated by lawful court order. These personnel records shall include, but not be limited to, any and all documents placed in a personnel file or internal affairs file, and any and all documents that might lead to discipline. These personnel records shall be exempted from disclosure as a public record.
(2)Prior to issuing a court order, the judge must review all such requests and give interested parties the opportunity to be heard. No such order shall issue without a clear showing of facts sufficient to warrant the judge to request records for review.
(3)If, after such hearing, the judge concludes there is a sufficient basis, s/he shall sign an order requiring that the personnel records in question be sealed and sent directly to her/him. S/he shall then review the file and make a determination as to whether the records are relevant and material in the action before her/him. Upon such a finding the court shall make those parts of the record found to be relevant and material available to the person so requesting.
(4)A violation of this section shall be punishable by a fine of not more than five thousand dollars per violation against the police agency, department, district, or city or town, or political subdivision that violates this section.
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