A highly militarized organization, the Massachusetts State Police maintains several specialized departments with military equipment and training, including an Air Wing, a Special Tactics and Operations Team (STOP), a Special Emergency Response Team (SERT), a Marine Unit, a Mounted Unit, a Motorcycle Unit, a Gang Unit, an Anti-Terrorism Unit, and an Incident Management Assistance Team, among others. As of 2020, the Massachusetts State Police employed a total of 2,201 state troopers, who were organized into six troops and 38 barracks operating across the state.
The Massachusetts State Police licenses police working for "colleges, universities, other educational institutions and hospitals" as "special officers," providing these forces with full arrest powers under MA law (see Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 22C, Section 63). The MA State Police also serve as a conduit for the provision of military weapons to police forces across the state through the Massachusetts 1033 program.
The Massachusetts State Police have participated along with other police organizations across the state in "Urban Shield" exercises organized by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), exercises which aim to prepare regional police forces for urban warfare under cover of "counterterrorism" trainings. (For more information about Urban Shield, see entry on Boston Police.) The Massachusetts State Police are also known to have also sent representatives to 2011, 2014, and 2016 "counterterrorism seminars" in Israel, as part of all-expenses-paid delegations of US law enforcement to Israel sponsored by the New England chapter of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The New England Chapter of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) sponsors annual all-expenses-paid delegations to Israel for high-ranking New England police, ICE, FBI, and other security officials, where these officials meet with Israeli military, police, and intelligence agencies, with whom they train and exchange tactics including surveillance, racial profiling, crowd control, and the containment of protests.
Commonwealth Intelligence Fusion Center
The Massachusetts State Police manages the Commonwealth Intelligence Fusion Center, which serves as a node of information sharing between local, regional, and federal law enforcement agencies, organized under the purview of the US Department of Homeland Security. (See also separate entry on the Boston Regional Intelligence Center.) According to the overview on the Massachusetts Government website:
The Department of State Police’s Commonwealth Fusion Center (CFC) operates within the Criminal Information and Intelligence Section of the Massachusetts State Police, under the direction of the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS). According to Executive Order 476, CFC is the principal state repository for threat-related information, including criminal activity, threats to public safety, and terrorist activity. Its components ... provide a variety of functions for federal, state, regional, and local public-safety agencies, as well as a variety of public- and private-sector entities, to facilitate the receipt, analysis, and sharing of this critical information ... In addition to producing intelligence products, in 2007 CFC purchased and implemented a software product (CopLink) that collects information from dissimilar law enforcement agency record management systems and organizes them into a single database. ... CopLink combines the information gathered into a single, searchable database, enabling users to analyze large volumes of information to identify trends and provide support for criminal investigations and other law enforcement activities. According to CFC management, as of February 21, 2018, law enforcement personnel from 414 agencies across the state had access to the information in the CopLink database. An additional 26 agencies outside Massachusetts also had CopLink access. CFC management also stated that they frequently provide training and technical assistance on CopLink to law enforcement stakeholders. ... As of December 31, 2017, there were 37 employees assigned to CFC, which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and has two locations: one in Maynard and one at the Department of State Police headquarters in Framingham.
In 2018, the Massachusetts State Police posted a screenshot on the social media platform Twitter from a computer in their Watch Center (part of the Fusion Center) which contained a map of incidents related to gas explosions in homes serviced by Columbia Gas in Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover. At the top of the screenshot were a series of tabs showing the State Police's monitoring of local political groups, including: Mass Action Against Police Brutality (MAAPB); the Coalition to Organize and Mobilize Boston Against Trump (COMBAT); Facebook 413; Facebook MA Activism; and Resistance Calendar. This one example of the MA State Police's surveillance of political groups is emblematic of a broader pattern of action by police forces across the state and US Department of Homeland Security, which, as noted above, are highly networked through fusion centers: A series of Freedom of Information Act requests submitted by the Center for Constitutional Rights in 2018 produced documents from the DHS and the FBI which showed extensive surveillance of Black activists protesting police violence (labeled as "black identity extremists"), as well as "racist, anti-muslim and conspiratorial 'news' items shared among agencies."
- Partnership/Ownership/Membership – Anti-Defamation League (ADL)
Leadership from the Massachusetts State Police are also known to have participated in 2011, 2014, and 2016 "counterterrorism seminars" in Israel, as part of all-expenses-paid delegations of US law enforcement to Israel sponsored by the New England chapter of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The New England Chapter of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) sponsors annual all-expenses-paid delegations to Israel for high-ranking New England police, ICE, FBI, and other security officials, where these officials meet with Israeli military, police, and intelligence agencies, with whom they train and exchange tactics including surveillance, racial profiling, crowd control, and the containment of protests.
- Product Link – Boston Dynamics
Boston Dynamics has sold its robotic dogs to the Massachusetts State Police.
- Association/Collaboration – Harvard Kennedy School of Government
Massachusetts State Police Lieutenant and Tactical Operations Commander John Rota was one of three participants in Harvard Kennedy School's Bradford Fellowship Program in 2021-2022. HKS's Bradford Fellowship Program claims to provide "high-performing managers the opportunity of a lifetime to attend the mid-career Masters in Public Administration (MPA) program at the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government," where Fellowship recipients "receive a scholarship for full-tuition at the Kennedy School, and paid salary while attending the program, including the summer pre-program." John Rota has worked at the Massachusetts State Police for over 33 years.
- Association/Collaboration – Harvard University Police Department (HUPD)
The Harvard University Police Department (HUPD) consists of "special officers" licensed by the Massachusetts State Police, with full arrest powers.
- Partnership/Ownership/Membership – Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
Multiple officers in the Massachusetts State Police have been designated as "Task Force Officers" (TFOs). TFOs are local police officers granted the authority to perform the duties of federal law enforcement including making arrests of individuals sought by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for detention and/or deportation.
- Association/Collaboration – Kostas Research Institute at Northeastern University
Northeastern University offers up the Kostas Research Institute for "private and as-needed secure convening venue for researchers, industry practitioners, and government agencies," and notes that the Massachusetts State Police has utilized the Institute for this purpose (for "training," specifically).
- Association/Collaboration – Massachusetts State Police Museum and Learning Center
Per their website, the Massachusetts State Police Museum and Learning Center "provides an opportunity for visitors to explore the Massachusetts State Police’s rich historical past through its interactive exhibits and Learning Center activities ... as well as learning about current law enforcement methods and public safety efforts."
- Partnership/Ownership/Membership – Department of Homeland Security
The Massachusetts State Police collaborate with US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to run the "Commonwealth Fusion Center" (CFC). "Fusion Centers" are sites established by the DHS to coordinate surveillance and information sharing between local, state, federal, and private policing agencies. According to the description of CFC on mass.gov:
In accordance with the Fusion Center Guidelines issued jointly by the US Department of Justice and DHS, CFC develops an annual production plan outlining the types of intelligence products it intends to provide to stakeholders ... In addition to producing intelligence products, in 2007 CFC purchased and implemented a software product (CopLink) that collects information from dissimilar law enforcement agency record management systems and organizes them into a single database. CopLink also includes information from other entities, including the Sex Offender Registry Board and the Registry of Motor Vehicles. CopLink combines the information gathered into a single, searchable database, enabling users to analyze large volumes of information to identify trends and provide support for criminal investigations and other law enforcement activities.
The Commonwealth Fusion Center is listed by the US Department of Homeland Security as one of its 80 officially recognized intelligence fusions centers across the country, and one of the two officially recognized intelligence fusion centers in the state of Massachusetts.
- Partnership/Ownership/Membership – Greater Boston Police Council
The Massachusetts State Police Department is listed as a full member of the Greater Boston Police Council, a "law enforcement council" (LEC) set up in the 1970s to link regional police forces and share resources for policing anti-war protests. LECs in Massachusetts have played a central role in militarizing police by organizing SWAT teams and purchasing military equipment such as Lenco Bearcats and other armored vehicles.
- Association/Collaboration – Salem State University
The Massachusetts State Police are listed as an employer "looking to Hire Salem State Vikings" on the Salem State University webpage advertising the university's 2022 Virtual Job and Internship Fair.
- Product Link – Guardian Uniform and Supply
Guardian Uniform and Supply provides Massachusetts police forces with equipment. According to public records, in 2022 Massachusetts state police placed an order of over $100,000 with Guardian for “light weapons and ammunition.” In the same year, the state of Massachusetts also bought “public Safety Equipment and Two-Way Radios” from Guardian for over $400,000.