Providence Police Defend Body Camera Footage Policy

Dec 23, 2016

The Providence Police are defending their policy on police officer body cameras. Some advocates, including the ACLU, have called for footage from the cameras to be made available to the public. City police say the decision will be made on a case-by-case basis.

The local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has raised objections to the body camera policy. They say it will require a public records request to see the footage. That request could be blocked in the case of an ongoing police investigation.

Police Chief Hugh Clements said in most cases the footage will be available to residents who request it.

“The office will allow that individual to view the footage in the office, and see what their actions were on tape, and then leave the office,” said Clements. “They would not be provided a copy to take with them.”

Clements said releasing the video to the public could alter witness accounts of a crime or incident of police misconduct.

“We interview people, and we re-interview them a second or third time,” said Clements. “Their firsthand account of what they recalled. Now if they view it on live TV. It certainly compromises their memory.”

The Providence Police are still seeking approval from the city for a plan to outfit patrol officers with body cameras.