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Maine Lawmakers Probe Racial Profiling, Privacy Concerns Raised About Information Gathering Agency

State lawmakers reviewing police use of force and racial bias Wednesday trained their focus on the Maine Information and Analysis Center.Maine Public Safety Commissioner Michael Sauschuck says the MIAC scours publicly available information, such as Facebook posts, to help local and federal authorities investigate or preempt potential criminal activity.

But Rep. Rachel Talbot-Ross, a Portland Democrat, says the MIAC's "see something-say something" tip line invites racial profiling because Black people are routinely viewed suspiciously by police and "in ways that has always disproportionately ended our lives. See something-say something - when they're jogging down the street. See something-say something - when we're grocery shopping, when we're sleeping in our beds, when we're at home doing barbeques."

The MIAC is one of 80 fusion centers created in the wake of 9-11 terrorist attacks to share information between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

The ACLU of Maine is calling on the Legislature to investigate the MIAC's budget, staffing and relationship with federal law enforcement.

Journalist Steve Mistler is Maine Public’s chief politics and government correspondent. He is based at the State House.